An Alaska man told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Thursday he recently missed out on a life-saving heart transplant after thousands of flights were canceled amid a travel crunch.
Harlow said Patrick Holland was supposed to fly from Alaska to Seattle to get a much-needed heart transplant just weeks after getting on the transplant list, but several of his flights were canceled because of a storm.
Holland said he and his family arrived at the airport for their first flight, which was scheduled with Alaska Airlines, but upon arrival they found out the flight had been canceled due to the weather. An airline employee managed to book another flight for Holland, but that flight was then diverted to Anchorage after four hours in the air.
“I started to panic, and … my phone said, ‘Anchorage,’ and all my worst fears were overwhelming me,” Holland told CNN, appearing to hold back tears. “Because when you hear that, you’re like, ‘There’s somebody donating a heart and they don’t – I don’t image they can wait that long, because the longer it waits, the longer the tissue decomposes.'”
Holland said at that point, several other potential flights were canceled as well.
“At this point, I knew. I told my brother, I said, ‘The next phone call’s not going to be good.’ Just as I was calling [the heart transplant coordinator], she was calling me back to tell me they were going to give the heart to somebody else,” Holland recounted. (RELATED: Daily Caller’s Vince Coglianese Says Vaccine Mandates Are Partially To Blame For ‘Travel Crunch’)
“I can’t imagine getting that phone call,” Harlow said.
“It’s tough to have a body that wants to run, but not to have a heart that will let you,” Holland continued. “It takes away a lot. But you know what, on the same side, I believed that somebody else was going to get a miracle gift. So we just prayed for them.”
Holland then partially blamed himself, saying he could have done more to arrange his trip to Seattle to try and avoid all the problems.
“Please don’t blame yourself,” Harlow said. “This is not your fault.”
Thousands of flights were canceled throughout Christmas week. Southwest Airlines accounted for 58% of all flight cancellations as of Thursday morning, with the airline responsible for 2,362 canceled flights at the time of writing, according to FlightAware. The airline was also responsible for 10% of flight delays as of Tuesday.