Beating the Odds: Austin Rickard

This is Austin Rickard. For those of you who don't know Austin personally, you are truly missing out on one of the most amazing people around. Austin is kind, caring, humble and selfless; he would literally give the shirt off of his back to someone if he knew it would help them. He is always there when you need him, he doesn't complain, he doesn't ask questions...he's just there ready to help in any way he can. This speaks to the amazing heart and abundance of love this man has for his family, friends, and those who surround him. 

Only some of you may know the extent of health-related battles Austin has been faced with in his life. Austin was born with six different heart defects, which required his first surgery at 5 weeks old. By the age of 2, Austin had undergone three very serious surgeries on his heart including: a Pulmonary Artery Band Placement, Fennestrated Lateral Tunnel Fontan, and a Percutaneous Device Closure of his Fenestration. Statistically speaking, Austin was not expected to live beyond each surgery. Along with an abundance of medical testing and procedures, he continued to show his resilience. Though Austin was never expected to live to attend kindergarten, he did. His family was told he would never live long enough to attend high school, he did. He was not expected to live long enough to graduate from college, but he did and he became an Executive Chef at the Heart Hospital of Wisconsin. Austin was never expected to live long enough to marry and start a family of his own, but now he and his beautiful wife, Heather, are expecting their first child due in July 2018. We want Austin to live long enough to see his baby grow up and to be the father that we all know he was meant to be.  

Austin is a fighter; he is the epitome of resilience, beating all the odds that were placed against him. Austin has had more testing, procedures, and surgeries in his life than most could even fathom, but he keeps fighting, always with that bright smile on his face. 

Austin was facing the biggest obstacle of his life when he required at double transplant of the heart and liver. 

The medicines that had been used to keep his failing heart beating destroyed his liver. Time had taken its toll and suddenly at the end of 2017, at the young age of 29, Austin's heart and liver function have begun to rapidly deteriorate. It was a race against time as we waited for Austin to be healthy enough and the donor organs to become available for him.  

Austin was admitted to Childrens Hosptial in February of 2018 where he first underwent a procedure to have a VAD (partial artificial heart) placed.  This would allow Austins heart to help push blood thru the way it was supposed.  There were good days and bad days but ultimately the set backs took the front runner and tough decisions had to be made.  In the beginning of March 2018 Austin was put on an ECMO devise which was supposed to help his body rest and improve his number.  It seemed to be working but this was only a temporary solution.  As i said tough decisions had to be made and with Austin's fighting spirit and Heather's strength/support... it was decided that Plan B, a full artificial heart would have to be the best plan of action.  Austin had a really good day on Tuesday, March 20th.  He was alert, he was smiling, we got to hear him speak, joke, and just be him...more importantly Heather got to hear her husband say "I love you," which hadnt been possible for nearly a week.  He was still very sick but Tuesday was a good day, it gave us all hope.  On Wednesday March 21st, Austin underwent an 18.5 hour surgery where his heart was removed and replaced with a Syncardia (full artificial heart).  This was a long shot but the best shot and Austin pulled through the surgery and seemed to come out strong.  Everyone knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but there was still hope.  Nine days after the procedure, Austin being fully weaned from sedation had still not woken up.  On Friday, March 30th the devastating news was given from the doctors.  Austin had suffered a severe brain bleed at some point, the damage was irreversible, Austin would not be waking up.

On Saturday, March 31st, wrapped in the arms of his loving wife and soulmate Heather, with his unborn baby snuggle next to him, his sisters and parents by his side and surrounded by close friends.  Austin took his last breath.  To say this day was heart wrenching is an understatment but it will be a day that will never be forgotten because Austin will never be forgotten.

Austin i=was the type of person who would never ask for help. He always had the mentality that “someone else has it worse”. Throughout all his health struggles he continued to work and show his drive for a normal life. At this time we, his family and friends, are asking for help on Austin's behalf, for his devoted wife and unborn daughter whom he sadly had to leave behind. This man, had such love in his heart, was the most amazing uncle, best friend, greatest brother, a wonderful son, and devoted husband anyone could ever hope for and he deserved many more years of life.  Unfortunately that was not possible.   Heather will still be facing all the medical bills from Austin's hospital stay as well as trying to prepare for their child and regain a sense of normalcy at life.  It is now our goal to make Austin proud and throw an amazing fundraiser to help Heather and their baby girl to be get a headstart in life without their protector and rock, they were his world..  Please help us accomplish this.

If you would like to follow Austin's story more closely and find out more about the fundraising event, please visit the official Beating the Odds public Facebook page @  


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  • Anonymous 
    • $587 
    • 31 mos
  • Sky Huertas 
    • $40 
    • 34 mos
  • Lunardesignsxo Lunardesignsxo 
    • $27 
    • 34 mos
  • Vicki Orgas 
    • $50 
    • 34 mos
  • David Schafer 
    • $300 
    • 34 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Danielle Van Zeeland Franklin 
Milwaukee, WI
Heather Rickard 
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