NEW YORK -- Former Major League catcher Ed Hearn is on the phone Thursday morning and, by the sound of his voice, one couldn’t tell that something is wrong with him physically. On this day, he is talking about his baseball past.
What Hearn, 62, remembers most, of course, is the 1986 Mets, a team that beat the Red Sox in the World Series that year. As the backup to catcher Gary Carter, Hearn was productive during that magical season, hitting .265 with four home runs. And Hearn still laughs about being part of one of the worst trades in Royals history after ‘86, when the Mets traded him to Kansas City for right-hander David Cone, who went on to win 81 games with a 3.13 ERA during his seven years in New York.
The reality now, though, is that Hearn needs help. He recently recovered from sepsis and is looking for his third kidney transplant. His last one lasted 20 years before it failed in recent months. The first procedure, from a deceased donor, came in 1992 and lasted nine years.
Peritoneal dialysis is part of Hearn’s life these days. According to the Mayo Clinic, it removes “waste products from your blood when your kidneys can't adequately do the job any longer. This procedure filters the blood in a different way than does the more common blood-filtering procedure called hemodialysis.”
Hearn, who has had kidney problems since the age of 31, gets treatment at home every night for eight hours. In order to get back into the game of life, Hearn prefers a living donor, which is a much faster process than getting one from a deceased donor. He hopes to get it within months instead of years.
Once he gets the transplant, Hearn wants to continue on as a motivational speaker and impact lives when it comes to kidney disease. He already has written a book on the subject called “Conquering Life's Curves: Baseball, Battles & Beyond.”
“This is about having a chance to get back to doing what I’ve done the last 25 to 30 years, which is to impact lives [about kidney disease],” Hearn said. “It means more to me than baseball. … I believe God has a plan for me. It was something greater than being a professional athlete.”
Hearn said he doesn’t know where he would be without his wife of 35 years, Tricia, who has been there for Hearn through sickness and in health, for better and for worse.
“When you go from being in a World Series -- when she met me -- to a starting catcher [to start the 1987 season] in Kansas City, we get married and then [my health] unravels,” Hearn said. “She stuck with me and never wavered. It wasn’t about the ballplayer. It was about our marriage.
“It’s a great story about her more than me. [We’ve been] through [two] transplants, two failed ones and dialysis -- every conceivable dialysis over the years. I’ve been on my deathbed twice. Yes, I’m the one that does the interviews and speaking over the years and gets the headlines, but it’s her, the wind beneath my wings. No doubt. I wouldn’t be alive.”
For more on his story, go to Hearn’s page on the National Kidney Registry’s website.