SALT LAKE CITY — "I buy my drugs on the corner," Paul Cardall jokes as he steps into a corner pharmacy in downtown Salt Lake City.
The pharmacist greets him by name, meaning this is probably a regular occurrence.
What happens next is not so regular. Or rather, a year ago it was not possible for Cardall.
He runs across the street.
"I can run now," Cardall says as he holds anti-rejection medicine for his heart in his hand.
An award-winning musician and producer, Cardall was born with congenital heart disease, a problem with the heart's structure and function due to abnormal heart development before birth. Because of that, life has not been exactly easy for Cardall. In fact, before his heart transplant one year ago, life could be downright exhausting.
However, through the trials that came with his condition and his journey to get a new heart, Cardall has come out with an amazing perspective and message of faith, living and love. Though he speaks just above a whisper, his story, which he shares in his new book, "Before My Heart Stops," is powerful.
Cardall's book evolved out of his blog, "Living for Eden," named for his daughter, that he kept of his life experiences with congenital heart disease.
"As I was keeping the blog, people were visiting the website and they were parents of little kids that have congenital heart disease … They were recognizing that I'm married, I have a daughter — and it gave them a lot of hope … I found purpose in the blog."
After some encouragement and persuading by family members, Cardall decided to write the book, which is comprised mainly of selected blog entries.
Cardall met with Deseret Book since his record label is with Shadow Mountain. "It was perfect. Since I talk about God and faith and my faith — even though it's universal, they would be the best fit for this (book) right now."
After meeting with Deseret Book, Cardall began organizing his book. "The blog is daily entries, but it doesn't give any information about who I am or my childhood. I decided that we'd take sections (of the blog) and we'd make them chronological, and add all these additional, intimate insights — like how I learned to play the piano."
Cardall included personal family stories, how he met his wife and many stories from his childhood.
"For someone to read this, they may think, 'He's got a lot of high expectations and hope. He's overconfident. He thinks that he can make any miracle happen. He has this faith to heal from the transplant.' The truth is, I can't really explain my faith or the will to survive without anyone knowing about my parents or my heritage because I'm a product of my parents and my ancestors who struggled to come to Utah. All that strength and faith, it's been passed down through generations and I'm just one of the products of their hard work," Cardall says.
On Christmas Eve 2008, the Cardalls received a phone call at 1 a.m. that there was a heart for Paul and that they needed to get to the hospital fast. After arriving, wondering if they'd said everything to each other that they needed or wanted to say before Paul entered into heart transplant surgery and then being prepped for surgery — doctors found an aneurysm in the heart and did not perform the surgery.
"Up until that false alarm, I lived like I was dying. My wife and I had deep conversations. I got everything in order. I had a will. I had ideas of what kind of program would be at my funeral and which family members would be my pallbearers (and we would laugh about "Paul" bearers.) Up until then I was thinking I was going to die," Cardall says.
But then, tragically, Cardall's brother passed away. After the death of his brother, and thinking of his wife and daughter, Cardall changed. He was no longer going to die. He was going to live.
A year after his heart transplant, Cardall says that he carries a weighty responsibility because someone else's heart beats inside of him. "I feel like I need to spend everyday serving other people because he served me."
Cardall says there are about 1.8 million people who have some form of heart defect and that a child is born every 15 minutes with a defective heart. Though it is the No. 1 birth defect, it is the least funded. Because of that, Cardall has become an active voice to raise awareness to this problem.
Though "Before My Heart Stops" is his story, the message for everyone is a reminder that we don't live forever.
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