Longtime Los Osos Business Owner Gets New Heart

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

October 23, 2020

Gary Stalter of Los Osos recently underwent a live-saving heart
transplant at UCLA Medical Center.

Gary Stalter, a longtime resident and business owner in Los Osos, is recovering after a heart transplant at UCLA Medical Center.
In late August, Gary and his wife of 30 years, Cathy Stalter, received devastating news — without a new heart, he would not survive until the end of the year.

This was after Gary had already undergone multiple procedures including mitral valve surgery to correct the problem. Doctors said that they were out of other options, all of this in the midst of a pandemic.

The couple, who owned the Copy Spot & More in Los Osos for more than three decades, had to close their business, despite it being considered essential, and move to be closer to UCLA.

“COVID was putting a strain on the business,” Cathy said. “It was scary to continue [being open] because we knew Gary was becoming fragile with his new diagnosis of congestive heart failure on top of other heart conditions.”

For awhile, Cathy ran the business through a window onto the sidewalk
“Staying protective for Gary’s sake was my high priority.”

One month after his evaluation and subsequent admittance into the ICU ward at UCLA, the transplant team told Gary that there was a possible match for him. Someone with 0 positive blood had donated their heart.

The family doesn’t have any information other than that the donor was 21-years-old.

“We are so sorry for the family that lost their beautiful baby, but we are so thankful that they are trusting Gary to keep this new heart safe,” said Shawn Ison, Gary and Cathy’s daughter-in-law.

Within 12 hours after the surgery, Gary was taken off of the ventilator, within 24 hours, he was off of oxygen, wide-awake and taking walks in the hospital halls.

Cathy said he is very motivated to return home and see his very missed dog, Willow, who had been by his side knowing something was wrong with him. 

“I’d like to thank my SLO family of friends and business associates for all your support during this time,” said Cathy “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would be living in LA. However, this very emotional roller coaster will come to the end in a few months.  We have a new family of surgeons and nurses who have done a fantastic job. They certainly are our super heroes of today.”

For now, Cathy will continue living in an efficiency apartment to be near the “love of her life,” but they are ready to return as soon as the critical transplant coordinator gives them the okay. For at least the next few months, they will likely have to remain in the LA area for outpatient treatment.

“Soon we will enjoy our home again and get to enjoy retirement,” Cathy said.
The Stalter family has launched a GoFundMe.com with a goal of raising $50,000 to cover medical expenses.

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