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Commissioner Healthy After New Heart

November 15, 2011, 6:11 PM by Casey Wonnenberg

Commissioner Healthy After New Heart
Dick Kelly

SIOUX FALLS, SD - He's suffered from a stroke, heart problems, and has even had a heart transplant. But Minnehaha County Commissioner Dick Kelly says he's now getting his energy back and is staying as busy as ever.

Kelly has represented the people of Minnehaha County for nearly four years now. But he's also served on the Sioux Falls City Council and in the South Dakota Senate.

"I love serving on the commission," Kelly said.

But Kelly, who's spent a lot of his lifetime helping others, had to wait for someone to help him this year in the form of a new heart. Kelly had a heart transplant this past summer after suffering from a stroke and heart problems.

"If you don't have donors, you don't have hearts. It's a big step for people," Kelly said.

While commissioner Kelly is back at commission meetings, he's still recovering. He has to make monthly trips to a Minneapolis hospital and struggles sometimes to use his hands.

"I have a neurological problem with my hands. One was caused by the stroke. The other we don't know what brought it about," Kelly said.

Despite his problems, doctors, family, and fellow commissioners are surprised by how well his recovery is going, calling it nothing short of a miracle.

"Now there's more energy in his step and his skin tone is getting better. Gosh, it's great to have Commissioner Kelly back doing his job because he loves it," Commissioner Jeff Barth said.

Now Kelly plans on using his experience to help others who are put in the same situation. He's becoming an advocate for donors.

"I think most people don't think about donors until you're in it, and then you realize it. Now, my family is very aware of the donor program. Probably before, there wasn't a lot of thought they had on it," Kelly said.

Kelly is living proof that it's a gift that saves lives.

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