The word “miracle” gets tossed around pretty loosely. Cheesy movies, sappy songs and pious platitudes tend to tarnish its power and majesty.

But Jim Midock believes in miracles.

He says he received one last month when he got what he had been praying for: a new heart.

“It was absolutely a Christmas miracle for me,” he said. “It really was.”

The longtime Akron radio newsman, 54, was in the Cleveland Clinic on Dec. 15 awaiting an operation to remove and replace his mechanical heart pump. He did not think his body could withstand yet another procedure to address a heart condition he has struggled with since 1999.

He was admitted a week earlier because doctors suspected he had a clot in his LVAD, a Left Ventricular Assist Device that acts as a mechanical heart pump.

“That’s like nitroglycerine lying inside you,” said Midock. “If you shake it a little bit, you’ll set off a reaction. You’ll either have a stroke or die.”

Doctors wanted to replace his pump. But Midock, who has been on the transplant waiting list since October 2016, did not think his body could withstand a replacement.

Not after years of operations, medications, transfusions and extended hospital stays, including one in 2011 after flatlining twice in the clinic’s intensive care unit. He later had a pacemaker and ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) surgically inserted. In 2016, complications following the LVAD surgery required giving him 18 pints of blood.

“They wanted to replace the pump, and I said, ‘I can’t do it. My body will not take it.’ ”

But he had no choice.

“The day before the operation, I went into the bathroom of my hospital room and I stared up at the corner of the ceiling,” Midock said.

“I said, ‘Please, God, if there was ever a time for you to send me a miracle and get me a heart, now would be the greatest time. I prayed and prayed like I’d never prayed before.”

“A few hours later, the LVAD team walked in my room and said, ‘We got you a heart.’ ”

20 pills a day

Of course, a life gained means a life lost.

“They do not tell you the sex or the age of the donor. They do give you papers on how to reach out to the donor family. You do it through a third party, Lifebanc,” he said. “I am planning to reach out to the donor family to tell them how much I feel for the loved one they lost and how much joy, health and happiness they have brought me.”

The procedure took 11 hours. Released a few days after Christmas, Midock returned home to Ellet with his wife, Jennifer. “She stayed by my side the entire time. She handled everything. The woman has been amazing.”

He has been told that the normal recovery time is about one year.

“I’m still coming to grips with the fact that there’s someone else’s heart in my body. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about it.”

Midock was an Akron radio staple for 20 years. He covered the news for WNIR (100.1-FM) and enjoyed a long run as part of Stan Piatt’s morning-drive crew until health forced him to step down in 2011.

Because his immune system is shot, he needs to avoid going out and seeing people as much as possible. (We spoke on the phone.) The exception: Weekly trips to the Cleveland Clinic for a biopsy of his heart. “They go down through the right side of your neck and pinch four snippets from the heart and analyze them for rejection.”

He takes 20 pills a day, including Prednisone and Prograf. Before they reached the deductible on his wife’s insurance, he said they paid about $2,700 for a month’s supply of Valcyte, an antiviral he takes twice a day. Jennifer started a GoFundMe online last year to help defray medical costs, and they ended up raising about $5,000.

“Every bit of it is going to medical expenses,” he said. “We are so appreciative of everyone who helped with donations and helped with prayers. People I’d never met before. You never know how many people are out there with kind hearts.”

All those pills come with side effects. He fluctuates, he said, between feeling jittery and feeling wiped out. He will need to stay on some of the pills for the rest of his life. He’s on a strict diet and tries to keep moving, walking on a treadmill as much as he can. He has chest pain and other pains, from all of the hardware they pulled out of him. But he’s used to pain. Most of all, he’s grateful.

“I keep saying, ‘Why me? Why me? Why did I get the heart?’ I just go back to that prayer. It’s the strangest thing.”

Clint O’Connor covers pop culture. He can be reached at 330-996-3582 or coconnor@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClintOMovies.