Donerick Black embraced the pink tutu.
The Dayton-raised Spring Valley Academy graduate promised a Cleveland Clinic nurse he’d wear the fluffy tulle skirt if he got a new heart.
Donerik, the co-owner of Dayton Weekly News with his dad, didn’t back out of the deal when the nurse showed up with the tutu a few days after his life-changing heart transplant surgery on Feb. 26.
He donned the tutu and posed and danced as if he were an undercover ballerina.
It was a moment of triumph in a long struggle.
“The doctor and nurses, they were very, very positive. That really helped me get through this ordeal,” Donerik said. “Without them being so positive and supportive, it would have been more difficult for me to get through this.”
Donerik and his wife, Angie, are expected to return to the Miami Valley today, a month after Donerik’s surgery.
The Englewood residents’ home base has been a Cleveland-area hotel since Donerik was released from the hospital. Donerik could travel no more than 30 minutes from the hospital.
He was in Cleveland Clinic 49 days in total, being admitted Jan. 9 after his cardiologist judged his condition dire.
“We had fun,” Angie said of their time in Cleveland. “We laughed, and we cried. We tried to make the best of it. It is almost like jail. You don’t know how or when you are going to get out.”
Donerik had his surgery early morning on Feb. 26, a day before his 45th birthday on Feb. 27.
The family got the news hours before on Feb. 25.
“They (doctors) wished him happy birthday and said, ‘We have another birthday surprise for you. We have you another heart,’ ” Angie recalled.
For support through this difficult time, the family leaned on friends, family and their church, Ethan Temple Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Trotwood.
“You learn to rely on your faith and your family. We couldn’t have gotten through this without God,” Angie said. “People we don’t know have reached out to help us. High school friends, college friends have reached out to help us.”
Donerik began experiencing heart issues in 2009. It worsened over time and was complicated by the fact that he only has one kidney. Donerik donated a kidney to his father Don Black in 2006.
The family was told this summer that nothing but a heart transplant would help.
“Even with all of my heart issues, I never believed I would need a heart transplant,” Donerik said.
Donerik was the adult Heart Hero for the 2014 Greater Dayton 5K Heart Walk/Run. He raised $7,000.
He and Angie plan to work with Life Connection of Ohio, an organ and tissue transplants non-profit.
The couple said they are thankful to the heart donor and want to help others.
“We really want to try to focus as much as we can of the importance of people signing up and supporting donor organizations,” Donerik said.
Many people didn’t realize how sick Donerik was before he was admitted to the hospital. His heart output was down to 20 percent. It is about 63 percent today.
He said it is surreal to think he will do all the things he couldn’t. He will return to work in about six weeks.
“Things as simple as walking up a flight of stairs… I didn’t do that for four years without being short of breath,” he said. “We are looking forward to getting back to our normal life.”