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Justin: It’s my birthday. Today is three years, three years since my heart transplant. I actually celebrate this one instead of my actual birthday.
Looking back three and half years ago, sitting on the floor of the bathroom, throwing up, not being able to move, I was sleeping about 20 hours a day. I just didn’t have any type of energy, couldn’t really walk anywhere, going from, you know, my bedroom to the kitchen which is like 35-feet away was exhausting.
Essentially I was dying. My chances of living longer than a year, 25 percent.
Robert: I was attached to the Midway. I get to show my kids where I used to work. I forgot what it felt like to have a healthy, beating heart inside me. You go to bed not knowing if you’re going to wake up or not. That’s always in your head every day. I used to stand watch right here.
November 29 at 12:01 am I got a call from my nurse practitioner from Sharp. "Guess what? We have a heart for you."
As a survivor what I think about the most is that my kids have a father.
Bryon: I was a paramedic most of my life. And I was at an emergency physicians conference, just felt horrible and one of my friends hooked me up to an EKG. And I was in life-threatening arrhythmias and ventricular tachycardia. And that was the beginning of the end of that life.
Shelley, Bryon’s wife: Because he was in such a dangerous place we weren’t sure he was going to come out of it. I think that was the scariest part because I was, we had a lot of plans.
Bryon: So my heart went from normal thickness on the right ventricle, went from normal thickness in one month to paper-mache thin. Dr. Athill said that it was terminal and that I’m going to need a heart transplant if I want to walk out of the hospital.
Dr. Brian Jaski, Cardiologist: The spark, once started about could we run a marathon. Before I would give my approval all had to complete a period of initial training. And all passed with flying colors.
This is a different race.
To see these three individuals say we want to make a statement here. Let’s show the world that you could even do something as major as run a marathon.
This is something we haven’t actually done before. A lot of people have this idea, "Oh, my, God. He’s had a heart transplant, that they’ll be forced to live a bed to chair existence after their transplant." Nothing could be further from the truth.
Robert: Life’s not ended. It’s just a different phase in life. It’s like a new beginning.
Woman in crowd: Thanks for the inspiration.
Dr. Jaski: They realize what they’ve been given, an amazing gift of life. It’s inspiring to me. It’s inspiring to others to say look what they’re doing with their second chance. What am I doing?
Bryon: Worked hard the last three months, gonna go out and leave it all out there. Sharp Team on the count of three, "One, two, three, Sharp Team."
Unbelievable to be alive (inaudible) do it like this.
I don’t want to be the guy sitting on the bed with an afghan on waiting for Price is Right at 10 and Sanford and Son at 11.
Justin: I have to watch out for the max heart rate. Whenever I do run I run with a heart rate monitor.
Bryon: We’ve been talking about this pace of run for two or three minutes, walk a minute, kind of keep your heart rate in the 150, 160 range.
Dr. Jaski: It’s fun to get out there and run and feel like your heart’s pumping and that you’re able to do this again knowing how close they were to not being able to do anything at all.
Robert: (inaudible) Hill’s a killer.
Dr. Jaski: The physiology of exercise is different after a heart transplant because there are no nerves directly hooked up to the heart. People still respond with increase of heart rate but it’s through the release of adrenaline. They’re not hard wired, it’s more soft wire.
Justin: We’re coming up on the Torrey Pines Hill. It’s going to be a pretty good test of our abilities. My legs are already hurting and I’m only like 20 feet into it.
Bryon: People have no idea. What do you mean? Which one had the heart transplant? We’re just like everybody else.
Justin: This is a big hill.
Bryon: About two miles to go, a little behind on my goal. Got one more, big grade and then I’ll be toast.
Justin: My heart rate shot up to 180 so I had to walk.
Robert: Coming up on the nine-mile mark.
Justin: See you at the finish line.
Dr. Jaski: La Jolla (inaudible), there you go. We’re there.
We’ll see how they do. I don’t know. I feel like they’re my little chicks, you know.
It has been just incredibly satisfying to take care of patients like Brian, like Robert, like Justin who have gone from such a low, desperate level to such a high level.
Bryon: It’s a fantastic gift to go from death’s door to being blessed enough to be able to do this.
Dr. Jaski: Oh, you’re No. 2 in, good work, man.
Bryon: Good job, buddy. I’m so proud of you.
Dr. Jaski: This is a long road from their original illness to where they are at that finish line. That just fills me with so much pride.
Bryon: Never let anybody tell you that you can’t do it.
Justin: I want say thank you to my donor.
My heart is racing a little bit.
Every day that I’m here is just a (inaudible) gift.
Robert: I feel that the heartbeat, the new heart beating in my chest is pounding. I can feel that, you know, with the life (inaudible).
Bryon: At the end of the day when people, "Oh, gosh, Bryon. I can’t believe you had a heart transplant," you know, and they kind of at first treat me with kid gloves. I say, "Man, this is nothing. This is a bump in the road. I’m healthy again."