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Heart patient recovering; prayers, donations needed
Portals Al Coleman seeking help
W Al Coleman
Al Coleman - photo by Special

A Portal native and heart patient who was recently hospitalized for a brain bleed due to an infection is asking for prayers and a little financial assistance as he recovers.

Al Coleman is awaiting a heart transplant and has a left ventricular assist device, or LVAD, said his sister Melissa Coleman. This makes it difficult for doctors to treat a brain bleed, since people with an LVAD are on blood thinners so the device can work, she said. The blood thinners, however, must be stopped until the bleed heals.

Coleman was hospitalized at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta in March, then transferred to Emory University Hospital.

“Please keep the prayers going up,” she said. “Last week, the doctors started Al back on a low dose of blood thinner on an IV drip. They monitored very closely to make sure the bleed in his brain did not start back up, and thank goodness it did not.”

Al and Melissa Coleman both grew up in the Portal area, where their mother, Martha Sue Coleman, served as postmaster for many years and their father, Franklin Coleman, taught math at Portal High School.

After a few days of giving him blood thinner with no issues, Al Coleman was transferred back to Piedmont so that his LVAD team could take back over caring for him, his sister said.

“As his brain works to correct the situation that occurred with the bleed, which takes time, he takes baby steps toward feeling a little more like himself,” she said. “He’s really weak from all this, and therapists are working with him. He passed the swallow test, but so far he has not wanted to eat a whole lot. But he does love ice chips, and he’s getting his voice back.”

Coleman must recover before he can have a heart transplant and will be out of work for some time. He is employed as an independently contracted tour guide for people on trips to places such as Washington, D.C.; New York City; Philadelphia; Boston; and Vermont. He also conducts an annual tour called “Songs of the South” that goes to Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans.

“It seems clear that what will be best for Al is to be placed on the transplant list, and, Lord willing, to get a strong heart,” Melissa Coleman said. “But he’s got recovering to do and strength to get back before that can be an option — the truth is, prayer really does make a difference. So please, please keep praying for Al.”

Donations to help Coleman with medical needs and other demands may be made at the Renasant Bank in Statesboro or through a special GoFundMe account. The Renasant Bank account is under the name “Al Coleman Fund,” and the GoFundMe account may be accessed at

Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.


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