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LifestyleIt started as a cough back in September. In December, Detective Tony Hart was airlifted to the Mayo Clinic.

EAST GRAND FORKS — It’s been a dark few weeks at the East Grand Forks Police Department. The office belonging to Detective Tony Hart, a man who lives up to his name, has been dark.

“The police department has not been the same without him,” said Officer Felicia Znajda. “He loves being a cop, he loves being with the officers,” commented Lieutenant Rod Hajicek. Detective Hart was diagnosed with heart disease back in 2008. He was treated then and living a normal life until September.

“It started with a cough, and he told me he wasn’t feeling the greatest, but he couldn’t put a finger on what was wrong,” explained Hajicek. The 39-year-old kept coming to work everyday, but then on Dec. 15 some of his organs began to fail and he was airlifted to the Mayo Clinic. “It scared us, scared all of us,” said Hajicek. For two weeks he would be heavily sedated and relied on a breathing tube. But there is finally some good news. Over the weekend, Detective Hart was awake enough to watch football and sing country music to the nurses. However, doctors believe he will need a heart transplant to survive.

“It’s tough, we were wondering for a while there if he was going to be OK, and he’s still not out of the woods yet,” said Hajicek. Detective Hart’s fight for life has hit close to the badge for his brothers and sisters in blue. “He has always been a big brother to everybody, anybody can got to him with a personal problem, a work-related problem, question, he is always there for everybody,” explained Znajda. With medical bills piling up they are calling for backup from the community to help this 12-year veteran of the force who has dedicated himself to keeping the streets safe. “He has always been one of the most giving, kind hearted, genuine people, and we know if this happened to any of us he would be the first one to step up,” said Znajda.

Lieutenant Haijek is keeping a close eye on his phone. Haijek is very close to his brother in blue. The two talk everyday even on their days off. “Waiting for my phone to ring and it comes up as him,” said Hajicek. If you would like to make a donation in honor of Tony, you can mail/drop off a donation at Frandsen Bank (1413 Central Ave. NW) or at the East Grand Forks Police Department (520 Demers Ave) in care of Tony Hart. You can also make a donation to detective Tony Hart’s caringbridge page. The East Grand Forks Police Department are also accepting donations to their Venmo account: EGFPD-Association.