MAYWOOD, Ill. -- After spending more than six weeks in the hospital waiting for a heart transplant, Jason Cipri, 31, needed some cheering up.
Cipri, a huge hockey fan, was thrilled when Blackhawks player Andrew Shaw paid him a visit March 14 in the Cardiac Care Unit of Loyola University Medical Center.
They talked about hockey for nearly an hour, and Shaw gave Cipri an autographed Blackhawks jersey.
"When I get out of the hospital," Cipri said, "I'm going to wear this jersey when I go to the game."
Cipri said the only sport he follows much is hockey. "I could watch game after game," he said.
At Crystal Lake South High School, Cipri played center on the hockey team. In a routine sports physical during his senior year, a doctor discovered he was suffering congestive heart failure.
Cipri's doctors at Loyola have kept his heart functioning with the latest treatments, including an implantable defibrillator, catheter ablation and medications. But his heart has become so weak that a transplant has become his only option. He has been hospitalized since Feb. 1 as he waits for an organ to become available.
"Through all of this, he has managed to go to college and get married," said Loyola cardiologist Dr. Erin Coglianese, who specializes in heart failure and heart transplant. "He continues to be very patient and brave."