Birmingham resident advocates for organ donation after two heart transplants

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published February 5, 2024

 Erik Morganroth, from Birmingham, is a two-time heart transplant recipient.

Erik Morganroth, from Birmingham, is a two-time heart transplant recipient.

Photo provided by Erik Morganroth


BIRMINGHAM — Shortly after graduating from the University of Michigan with his undergrad, Birmingham resident Erik Morganroth woke up and suddenly could not catch his breath. He decided to go to Beaumont Hospital for some tests.

Morganroth was declining and they decided to move him to the University of Michigan Hospital. Both sides of his heart were kept pumping through a machine. While he was on life support, he was put in an artificial coma and was woken up every few days to make sure he was not experiencing brain damage. He was on the machine for 34 days, which at the time, was the longest anyone had ever been on it.

“They didn’t really think I was going to make it based on how sick I was,” Morganroth said.

After over a month on life support, he was able to receive a heart transplant.

When he returned home, he met his wife, with whom he has two children. About 12 years after his transplant, abnormalities to the structure of the heart were found during an annual checkup. After more evaluation from doctors, he was listed for another heart transplant.

However, Morganroth shared how this time around was different. When he first got sick, his parents were the ones making most of the decisions for him. At the time of his second transplant, his parents were deceased and he had a wife and kids.

“I had to be positive for my wife and I had to be positive for my children, even though they were very young,” Morganroth said.

This time, especially, Morganroth was a very active participant in his own care.

“Everybody knew that I wanted more information than most, and I was Googling everything and asking questions and in a polite, respectful way, demanding to know my options and make sure that the options they were choosing were the options that made the most sense for me and my family so I could get home to them,” Morganroth said.

Before he went into the hospital this time, he was asked to speak at the opening of the University of Michigan cardiovascular center, which is now called the Frankel Cardiovascular Center. He was able to get his second heart transplant and leave the hospital about a week before speaking at the opening — but he had to rewrite some of his speech, because it was now about receiving two heart transplants.

Morganroth stated that his first transplant was due to a virus from a recent flu that attacked his heart, with the second one attributed to a complication associated with transplants.

Linda Larin, the chief operating officer for University of Michigan Adult Hospitals, has worked with Morganroth for the last few decades.

“I live my life vicariously through him, because he makes the most of every day in his life. And he has done so many things in his life that he’s always wanted to do, and he’s just so impressive, so thoughtful, and just such a great human being,” Larin said.

Since his transplants, Morganroth has carried on with a happy life with his wife and kids. He said he is a big food and wine person and likes to try every restaurant in the city. He loves to travel with his family and has so far been to several amazing destinations, such as Spain, China and Italy.

“I think we live what I like to perceive as a normal life, trying to enjoy adventures and make every day worthwhile,” Morganroth said. “I can’t say that I wouldn’t be doing that whether I had been sick or not, because I don’t know what my life would’ve been if this had not happened. I just know that I want to maximize my life, enjoy everything that life has to offer and live every day to its fullest.”

Morganroth has dedicated a lot of his time to advocacy, specifically with the Frankel Cardiovascular Center and Gift of Life. He was on the advisory board for the Frankel Cardiovascular Center, and because of the active role he played in his own health, he was the co-chair of the start of their Patient Family Centered Care program.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the American Heart Association. On May 5, the 2024 Washtenaw County Heart and Stroke Walk & 5K will be held at Washtenaw Community College.  They chose Morganroth to be the chair of this important event, because they wanted the involvement of a patient with an inspiring story.

More information on this walk can be found at