Meet Andrew Jones, the best looking zombie you will ever see in your life. Watching his brimming smile, active lifestyle and well-maintained figure; he looks like a pretty happy guy living a normal life. But there is just one small thing that is not normal about him, and that is the lack of a heartbeat anywhere in his body!
This Connecticut fitness model and bodybuilder lives more active and healthy life than most of us, all the while relying on an artificial heart pump and a pacemaker that he carries in a backpack 24/7.
AJ is waiting for a full heart transplant while he wears the machine and the scars of past operations on his body. He has to literally plug himself into the wall every night in order to charge up his lifesaving equipment, while living with the grim reality that without the device, his heart would definitely stop working.
His situation is comparable with the 25-year-old Stan Larkin, who got famous for wearing a similar backpack device for 555 days while waiting for his own transplant, and AJ also takes a lot of encouragement from Stan’s fairy-tale of grit and bravery. Though technically, his technology is not similar to the artificial heart of Stan Larkin’s, who had his natural organ completely removed. AJ instead uses the device to keep his natural heart from stopping and failing, but they do share the same struggle for survival.
In 2012 this fitness freak was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, which is a cardiac disease leading to irregular heart rate, shortness of breath, and sudden cardiac arrest. After four months in intensive care, he received his LVAD. Left Ventricular Assist Device, or LVAD as it is called, uses a battery pack and a computer to keep a check on the blood flow rate and helps to keep it pumping blood around the body in a natural way.
Andrew has been facing this dilemma with remarkable determination and courage, and also has opened a new charity called Hearts at Large in order to raise awareness about the issue of life-saving transplants. He wears his scars and device with enviable pride, but also is hopeful that he can find a permanent solution so he can truly live a normal life.
22 people die each day because of the unavailability of a suitable heart-donor, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing. A whopping 120,000 people are waiting only in the US for a life-saving organ transplant, and this goes to show the importance of spreading awareness about this unfortunate problem. Devices like Andrew’s LVAD, and Stan’s Syncardia helps in keeping patients alive while they wait for a transplant. But no matter how advanced medical science gets, these still are temporary fixes and a new heart is the only viable long-term solution for all these patients.
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