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Contributed image from Jamie Alcroft.

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa — In 1969, Jamie Alcroft was a sophomore at Westminster College and active in Theatre Westminster.  He even had a starring role in the musical, “The Wizard of Oz.”

He portrayed the Tin Man, the beloved character looking for a heart.  And in an ironic twist, 50 years after that performance, Alcroft would also embark on his search for a heart.

WCN 24/7 reporter Ali Srour tells us more about this former student’s heart transplant story.

SROUR: Everyone knows about the classic musical, “The Wizard of Oz.”   It’s a charming story filled with lovable characters and catchy music.   Nearly 50 years ago, Westminster College put on this musical.  Jamie Alcroft, a former student at Westminster college help to put on this performance.

ALCROFT: I played the Tin Man.

SROUR: Jamie has made a successful career in Hollywood.  He is both a comedian and an actor. However, in an ironic twist of fate, Jamie found himself with some medical trouble. He was a need of a new heart.

ALCROFT: It was on a plane, and I couldn’t get to hospital for an hour and a half, and when you have a heart attack, there’s a thing called the golden hour, and I missed the golden hour, so my heart was severely damaged, and I lived on about 20 percent of my heart for 12 years, and then it started feeling badly. I was. I was doingokay on the 20 percent.

SROUR: Jamie was taken to Cedar Sinai Hospital where he waited two months for a new heart.

ALCROFT: Because my heart was now functioning at seven percent or less and they told me I needed a new heart.

SROUR: Jamie shared how he passed the time waiting in the hospital.  He journaled about his experience on social media.  He called his posts “The TIn Man Diaries.”

ALCROFT: So for me to keep my sanity as I said, I started writing, and two friends of mine sent me a little package. I hadn’t been in the hospital maybe three or four days, and I didn’t know who knew about my predicament, what do you bring? New Heart. I hadn’t said anything on Facebook at the time, and I got a little package, and it was a little tin, men stuffed full. And so I was dubbed the 10 minutes, and I had my wife videotape me singing the 10 minutes. So the laws, which I still know my heart. So I started singing when he should be honest and let him. And yet, um, uh, you know what, I went through the whole thing, and we sent it back to him. So I propped up that little tin men doll on my bed, and I became the tin man. I started writing the very next day.

Alcroft as the Tin Man in 1969. Source: The Argo


SROUR: Luckily,  Jamie found a donor for his new heart in time and has made a solid recovery from the transplant.

ALCROFT:  I feel privileged to have experienced this, this transformation. It’s a functioning organ, and I’m grateful to have it. And I named my donor Bryan with a y, and I thank him every day. That’s great.

SROUR: He uses his new experience to promote organ donorship.

ALCROFT: It’s kind of like, goes along the light of my proposed title for my TED Talk. There is life after death because people want to accomplish something in their life. And uh, some of us achieve it in some of us fall short in some of the stale completely. And we want to leave a legacy. We want to make a difference by being here. And if you become a donor, you can make a difference by being here. Uh, if you lose your life, you can give life to hundreds of people and improve the lives of many, many people.

SOUR: Jamie is going to use his talent for the states to help give hearts to people all over the country, just like the wizard who helped him almost 50 years ago. I’m always for WCN 24/7.

From the Theatre Westminster playbill for the 1969 spring production of “The Wizard of Oz.”


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