Couple dedicates new lease on life to helping other transplant recipients

Dennis and Hope Prater have a very special relationship with the staff at Tampa General Hospital. The doctors and nurses there helped save Dennis' life. The couple is now helping others.

Ever since Dennis and Hope Prater got married 26 years ago, they have been inseparable. 

"We do a lot of things together, not just volunteering," said Dennis. "You know, everything we do in our life is together." 

In 2003 Dennis had a massive heart attack. His doctor sent him to Tampa General Hospital. "They did a procedure about ventricular valve pacemaker for my heart. And that actually kept me well for like 12 years. And so I stayed off the list for 12 years," Dennis said. 

But in 2017, his heart started to fail again. 

"He got listed and in 11 months he got a heart in 2018 March," Hope said. 

Dennis is doing fine now. 

"You feel back to normal. I'm golfing and doing everything else. And some days when we deliver magazines in the hospital, once a month, we'll do five miles of walking to get that delivered. So I'm back to strength now," Dennis explained.

The Praters are so thankful for Dennis's new chance at life. 

"So we said, 'OK, let's give back because we were given such a gift and such good care,'" said Hope. "And so we said we wanted to give back, and so we started volunteering." 

For the past three years, they have been driving from their New Port Richey home to volunteer at TGH. 

"We don't come on a daily basis because it is a 70-mile round trip. So we get we don't want to be here at 8, but we love coming," Hope added. 

Lynne Hughes, has been the volunteer coordinator for almost 12 years at TGH. 

"Their interactions with our patients and visitors are just wonderful. They can relate to them, so it makes for a very special experience for everyone when they come," Hughes said. 

The Prater's are happy be to spreading joy and love. 

"It really is special because I'm kind of giving back to where I got my life back together. I wasn't going to live much longer and now four years down the road and hope to have another 20," Dennis said. 

The Praters are part of the Patient Family Advisory Council at TGH and even traveled to Tallahassee to let lawmakers know about lifesaving services.