Friends and family rally around Fairhaven native Tim Christ in need of a heart transplant

Tim and Meghan Christ are the parents of a 2-year-old daughter they adore, and they are doing all they can to make sure Tim gets the heart transplant that he needs to be in their lives.

Facing heart failure, Tim, a Fairhaven native, is at Tufts Medical Center in Boston for complications related to cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure while he waits for a new heart. He has been on the heart transplant list for 10 years, but in recent months, his health has declined.

“Tim needs this transplant now more than ever, “she said. “He is reliant on IV medications and mechanical support to help his heart pump blood through his body. Without it he would end up in multi-organ failure.”

For 10 years he was stable, requiring minimal medication adjustments and living a fairly normal quality of life. He worked full time, he and Meghan married, and they had their baby girl.

Fairhaven native Tim Christ and his daughter, Holly, have had two wonderful years together but he is in need of a heart transplant.
Fairhaven native Tim Christ and his daughter, Holly, have had two wonderful years together but he is in need of a heart transplant.

When his medications stopped working in recent days, he started to decline at his home in New Hampshire. Meghan, an ICU nurse at a small Vermont hospital, said they didn’t know to what extent at that time.

“Given the nature of this progressive disease, we figured some medication adjustment was in order and he would return to our home in New Hampshire soon,” Meghan said.

But on Nov. 28. she found out that coming home was not an option and that he would need to be present in the hospital to receive a transplant.

Family support from near and far

It’s all hands on deck in support of oldest brother Tim. Meghan, Holly, his parents Doug and Erica, who live in North Fairhaven with his brother Dan, and their siblings, Hanna in South Boston and Jon in New Jersey. Their family moved to the SouthCoast in 2004 and were quickly embraced by an incredible community.

The Christ siblings are all graduates of Fairhaven High School. Dan and Hanna graduated from Wood School. They were especially connected to the Fairhaven Public Schools music and drama programs, in which all four siblings participated through band, orchestra, choir and theater.

It's the Christ siblings Tim, Hanna, Dan and Jon in their youth during the holidays.
It's the Christ siblings Tim, Hanna, Dan and Jon in their youth during the holidays.

Their father, Doug, was an active member of FAME and chaperoned every band trip he could.

Doug said it’s the strength that Tim shows that gives him strength.

“I focus on the joy Tim brings to anyone he meets,” he said. “He's a remarkable person, whose strength keeps everyone going.”

He said it’s their hope that Tim will come out the other side of this to live a long and happy life with Meg and Holly.

Doug shares a message to everyone following along and supporting their family.

“We all live in difficult times right now, but the outpouring of support from family, friends, and even total strangers has shown how truly good people can be,” he said. “We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”

Doug said all the positive thoughts and prayers sent their way keep them going day after day and asks to keep them coming.

How to help the Christ family

He also asks people to consider donating to their GoFundMe page at He said they completely understand that a donation is not possible for everyone but asks that their page be shared to help get the word out.

Unfortunately, heart problems run on both sides of the family, with two family members having had heart transplants in the past as well as bypass surgeries and other heart-related ailments.

Doug himself deals with consistent irregular heart rhythms, which are controlled by an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). Tim has this device implanted as well.

Hanna agrees that Tim’s strength gives her strength and motivates her to help with the logistics and take care of what’s going on outside the hospital walls while Meghan is staying with her in South Boston.

“I feel most in control and at peace with the situation when I can be helping,” she said. “It’s a scary situation. It’s hard to not realize what happens at the end of this, that he’s going to have major surgery and get a new heart. It keeps me going.”

What is viral dilated cardiomyopathy

Tim was diagnosed with viral dilated cardiomyopathy in 2013, his senior year at Lyndon State College, now NVU, in Lyndonville, Vermont.

Meghan has known Tim right along since his diagnosis. In short, a virus Tim picked up damaged his heart, and now the chambers of his heart are too weak to pump blood effectively.

“Hearing this news is hard in person but over FaceTime while your toddler is running around the house really steals the air from your lungs,” she said. “When you say marriage vows you promise forever, through thick and thin, sickness and in health. I just didn’t think the sickness part would come so soon.”

They chose to go public because Tim spent much of his young adult life part of the Fairhaven community, having graduated from Fairhaven in 2009.

It's Tim, Meghan and the Christ family celebrating Holly's baptism.
It's Tim, Meghan and the Christ family celebrating Holly's baptism.

She is also trying to juggle being present for Tim in Boston while maintaining her full-time job and caring for their daughter at the same time.

“I am stretched thin and to maintain health insurance I need to work,” she said. “Also, with travel to and from Boston, lodging and the rest of the household bills, things are tight. To even consider the cost of long-term hospitalization, surgical procedures and all the other pieces of Tim’s care literally makes me short of breath.”

The Go Fund Me goal of $50,000 would cover lost wages at the minimum, not including his medical bills.

How does the heart transplant process work?

She said the transplant process is complicated. Every year there are required follow ups and assessments on heart function. For 10 years Tim was a status 6, medically managed, but now because Tim is in the hospital, he is a status 2. He would be a 1 when a donor match is made.

On Friday, Dec. 1, Tim was in surgery to get an Impella device placed, Basically, it’s a motorized pump that pumps the blood and allows the heart to rest. His heart still beats, but it offloads the work it is under and better perfuses his organs with blood and oxygen. He is stable but weak.

His body developed an infection without a known cause, and he is recovering from the pump placement. His cardiac output has improved, but she said the decline from before Thanksgiving to now has been rapid.

Hanna said it’s a matter of monitoring him daily and taking it day-by-bay and not thinking too far into the future or focusing on the worst case. She said he has a huge team of doctors helping him.

After the surgery Dec. 1, when he could sit up in a chair for the first time since he got to the hospital, Hanna said Tim told her he feels more like an active participant because he can sit up and walk around.

Hanna said he had 10 years to prepare for this and knew it was a possibility, but they didn’t think it would happen so soon, so he’s doing his very best to keep himself calm. She said it’s hard to see him like this, but they are sure that it will be OK once he gets his new heart.

“It’s a really overwhelming and anxiety-inducing situation and very scary, and I know he’s just doing what he can to keep his heart rate down and take deep breaths, so I think he’s coping as well as anybody could be in a situation like this,” she said.

Hanna and Meghan spruced up his room with comfort items and things from home including pictures of Holly, and there’s family around him every day. She said it’s a traumatic situation for Tim and the whole family, so they find ways to take care of themselves because there’s is a small but mighty family.

She said they make sure Tim remembers that.

His 2-year-old motivation

Meghan said they involve 2-year-old Holly as much as possible. When she is home, they FaceTime with Tim often.

“We remind her that “Daddy is sick and at the hospital where the doctors and nurses are taking good care of him. We also remind her that he won’t be home for a long time.”

She said the hard part is that Holly can’t see her daddy until well after the transplant given that he really can’t get sick.

“She misses him very much, and it’s hard to hold back the tears when she asks me where he is. These are things that you never think you will have to tell your child, let alone at the age of 2,” she said. “Our family and friends have stepped up without hesitation to watch her but it’s hard: hard for me and hard for Tim. He misses her so much.”

Meghan said having a daughter is massive motivation. He wants to come home, and he wants to have an active role in her life.

“Given my schedule at work, they have been very close in the two years Holly has been a part of our lives,” she said.

They have received donations from all over the world thanks to friends and extended family and from many people from the SouthCoast who have reached out to check in.

Hanna said there are no words to say how grateful they are, and every time she gives him an update about how much money has been raised for his family and how many people are thinking about him, he gets so overwhelmed and grateful.

As of Monday afternoon, the Go Fund Me page had raised approximately $21,500 for Meghan, Tim and Holly.

Standard-Times staff writer Kathryn Gallerani can be reached at Follow her on Twitter: @kgallreporter.

This article originally appeared on Standard-Times: South Coast rallies around Tim Christ in need of a heart transplant