t's important to count your blessings. There is no better time to do that than Thanksgiving weekend.
But for one Augusta man and his family in Winfield, every day feels like Thanksgiving.
In the summer of 2008, Tyler Groom of Winfield had just started summer football workouts when suddenly his life changed.
"He was lifting weights and practicing for football," Luke Groom of Augusta said of his younger brother. "He wasn't even sick."
Alan Groom, their father, said he felt guilty because he had been especially hard on his son on that fateful day.
"He had been working around our shop and he kept complaining about his chest hurting and not being able to catch his breath," Alan said. "I told him to cowboy up. I had no idea anything was wrong."
But something was wrong.
Tyler continued to feel worse and worse until his mother, Tammy, decided to take him to the emergency room to see why he was having so much trouble breathing.
"Our world was turned upside down," Tammy said. "The nurses even cried with us when we got the news."
The news had been shocking to say the least.
Their son, who they believed to be a completely healthy football player a few hours before, was possibly only hours from death.
He was suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy - a condition that causes the heart to become enlarged and compromises its ability to efficiently pump blood to the rest of the body.
"They told us that if he didn't get a heart transplant he would die," Tammy said.
Doctors tried medication to reverse the effects of the disease but nothing helped. Soon the family was rushed to Integris Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City under the care of specialists.
It wasn't long before Tyler was in the Transplant Intensive Care Unit and facing a difficult decision. No heart had been found for him and he was facing a surgery that would include the installation of a BiVAD machine to help his heart beat. Tyler didn't want to use the machine even though it was a last ditch effort to keep him alive. The surgery to install the BiVAD is so difficult to endure that he wouldn't be eligible for a transplant for up to six weeks afterward. Tyler didn't want to take that risk but he was running out of choices.
A couple of nights before the surgery was scheduled, Luke was staying with his brother and they were talking about the upcoming procedure.
"I said wouldn't it be cool if you thought you were going to get the BiVAD and ended up with a new heart?" Luke recalled. He didn't know how prophetic his words would be.
Despite the seemingly worsening situation, Luke said he felt like God was involved in the situation for the first time on the night before the big surgery when the family prayed together.
"We all prayed and mom went last," Luke said. "She finished by saying 'God, we just lay Tyler at your feet. There is nothing more we can do.' That's when we really felt a peace about the situation."
The BiVAD surgery had been postponed a day when Tyler's condition stabilized. But on Aug. 19, he was set for surgery at 7:30 a.m. The doctors were running a couple of hours late. By the time the surgery was finally about to begin, another doctor came into the operating room and asked how far along they were in the surgery.
The surgeon hadn't even made the initial incision. By 4:30 that afternoon, they had a heart for Tyler.
That is when the bad news began to turn into good news.
The surgery went well. Soon he was in recovery and the family got to tell Tyler there was no machine, but a new heart instead.
"It was the most moving experience I will ever have," Alan said.
"It was indescribable with words," Luke said.
Nine days later he walked out of the hospital and went home. Less than two months later, he was back in school part time and even got to stand on the sidelines during Winfield's win over Andale to break the Indians' long winning streak.
He was back in school full time in January and was able to graduate on time.
Now, Tyler is doing very well and is a student at Cowley County Junior College in Arkansas City. He is studying to be a nurse.
"This all changed my mind on what I want to do with my life," he said. He chose nursing because of the great care he received in the hospital and he wants to give others the same experience.
Tammy wrapped up the family's feelings as they prepare for their second Thanksgiving with Tyler's newfound health.
"We have so much to be thankful for," she said. "It didn't change the way we celebrate it, but we just realize that we have so much to be thankful for. We are thankful for Tyler's health. We are thankful for the person who donated the heart and their family. It isn't just on Thanksgiving. We are thankful every day."