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Bon Jovi fan has good reason to miss show

Bonjovi fan Heather Royhl Dr. Gregory Macaluso.

Bonjovi fan Heather Royhl and Dr. Gregory Macaluso.

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Updated: August 14, 2013 6:16AM

Ordinarily, Jon Bon Jovi has Heather Rohyl to count on to cheer him on and sing all the words to his songs whenever he has a concert in Chicago.

But the 41-year-old die-hard fan from Lombard couldn’t be there Friday night when Bon Jovi and his eponymous band performed at Soldier Field because she’s recovering from getting a heart transplant July 5.

Rohyl had gotten tickets to the concert –- like she has for every Bon Jovi concert in Chicago, she says -- but she has to stay at Advocate Christ Medical Center for now while the hospital does what it can to make sure the new heart isn’t rejected by her immune system. Even when tissue types of the donor are closely matched with the recipient, transplanted organs are usually rejected unless steps are taken to prevent that from happening.

Rohyl has been at the Oak Lawn hospital a lot lately and was in danger of dying at least four times from all the health problems she’s had, her doctor, Dr. Gregory Macaluso, of Advocate Christ Medical Center, said.

Rohyl first came to Christ Medical Center in February because her heart had been damaged so much that it was unable to supply enough blood to the organs of her body. It’s unclear what triggered that damage, though Rohyl was found to have a rare blood-clotting condition that also caused her to have a stroke, then kidney failure and then a respiratory infection after she came to the hospital.

Eventually, Rohyl received a temporary heart pump and then later became eligible for a heart transplant.

But when she found out her surgery would mean missing the concert, she was bummed, even though she knew that getting a new heart was a good reason to miss the concert this year.

“I was hoping that I could have the surgery after the concert, but no such luck,” Rohyl said.

Advocate Christ Medical Center officials reached out to Bon Jovi’s publicist, seeing if he could come to the hospital to meet one of his fans while he was in town, a hospital spokeswoman said. That didn’t happen, but a gift was being sent to the hospital for Rohyl, his publicist said.

When asked why she was such a big fan, Rohyl said, “I’ve just loved him since I was a kid.”

Rohyl said Bon Jovi’s album was one of the first she heard when she started listening to music as a teenager in the early 80s, and now she has all of his albums.

Macaluso, a cardiologist on the heart transplant team at Christ Medical Center and also a fan of Bon Jovi himself, said it was unfortunate that Rohyl wasn’t able to be at the concert. But the payoff of getting the heart transplant should make it possible for her to see many more Bon Jovi concerts to come.

“She should have a very good quality of life,” he said.

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