PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Going through the organ transplant process can be difficult for any family, but one valley family had to go through it twice!
These twin brothers both had to have a life-saving heart transplant because of a genetic disease.
"I know for me literally I say in my prayers every day that I'm thankful for another day," said Robert Fowler.
It was another day of life Robert once feared he wouldn't get -- this after he became sick in 2013.
"I was working, started passing out at work. I was 274 pounds. I just thought I was kind of obese and out of shape," he said.
His diagnosis was far worse than losing a few pounds. Doctors told Robert he was in heart failure and suffering from a rare, inherited condition called Dilated cardiomyopathy, which is a disease that makes the heart progressively enlarged and unable to pump blood effectively.
"You literally felt sick to your stomach 24-7, can't breathe, can't lay flat anymore. I couldn't get up my stairs anymore," he said.
As the months went by, his health continued to decline and medicine was no longer enough. It was now 2014 and Robert needed a life-saving heart transplant in order to survive.
"Thanksgiving night I got a phone call at 10:30 and that was the craziest phone call. They said come to the hospital. Come to the hospital, they have a heart for you," he said.
Robert's identical twin brother, Larry Fowler, feared that he too might have the genetic disease. Larry, who had been deployed every other year for eight years, was in the process of getting out of the Marine Corps at the time.
"They did the full work up, blood work and echocardiogram on me and they said you don't have what your brother has, you're good to go," he said.
All of that changed in October 2015. Larry started having bad stomach pain and several months later, finally made it to the cardiologist.
"Walked in, she looked at me and was like, let's take you back and hook you up and she was like, you're in heart failure right now. She's like, you're not starting, you're in heart failure."
Unfortunately, Larry was diagnosed with the same disease that almost took his brother's life. He was now in the fight for his life and like his brother, needed a life-saving heart transplant.
"It was hard because.. seeing him go through it, am I going to have to do the same things because it was rough for him and I was scared. It was scary," said Larry.
After being on the transplant list for just one week, on April 8th, Larry got the call -- there was a match.
"Unbelievable. It was one of the coolest moments of my life. My wife got to be there, she just happened to be there that day," said Larry.
Bit by bit, the twins have regained their strength, both now looking at life a little differently.
"Appreciation is so much greater. Just the little things. In the morning, will you take the kids to school? I used to be like no, but now it's like, heck yea I'll take them, why not," said Larry.
Robert added, "When I'm laying in bed every night, you can hear it going.. I'm like whoa, that's crazy, you know."
If it weren't for two selfless organ donors, the Fowler family would have lost not one, but two very important members. Because of the donors, Robert and Larry are able to spend time with their families and watch their children grow up -- something they're forever grateful for.
"When I met the husband of the donor. What do you say to him was my big thing. I was like thank you. I said honestly I don't know what to tell you other than thank you. It's not really a gift you can give back. All I could say was thank you because I would have been gone by now," said Robert.
Sadly, the twins' father died at the age of 37 from the same disease. The twins will have to be on medication for the rest of their lives.