Andrew Jones, 26, is the best example to show how far medical technology has come. This model and bodybuilder from Connecticut are living with a shocking truth that can put all of us in abashment. He is alive on an artificial heart pump and pacemaker that he carries with him 24×7. This makes impossible for us to come up with an excuse for missing a workout.
Andrew has to charge up his life-saving equipment daily but he is very positive about a full heart transplant that he is going to have very soon. This would let him live without carrying the equipment, without worrying about charging the equipment.
“I’m pretty much the best-looking zombie you’ll ever see,” AJ says. Yes, he is a zombie now because there is no pulse anywhere in his body.
It is Andrew that the weight of the artificial heart system attached to his back does not give him an excuse to not go to the Gym.
In late 2012, the fitness icon, Andrew Jones was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – a disease which leads to irregular heart rate, sudden cardiac arrest, shortness of breath. He was admitted for 4 months in Hartford Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. After that, he was implanted with LVAD. It is just like an artificial heart and will be with him until he finds a heart donor for transplant.
“The inner walls of my heart are swollen so it’s hard for the heart to compress and allow for sufficient blood flow,” he said.
Just like Andrew, Stan Larkin, who is 25 years old, wore a similar heart pump and pack maker in a backpack for 555 days while he was waiting for his heart transplant.
The device Andrew is wearing is called a Left Ventricular Assist Device or LVAD. It consists of a battery and a control unit. Control Unit monitors the functions of LVAD. It gives alarms, warnings if the power goes low or If the device is not working properly. It has some tubes to keep the blood pumping around the body naturally. This device is made by a company named Heart Ware.
It is not an artificial heart. Andrew also has the heart inside the body. This device helps Andrew’s existing heart to do its job. Without this device, it would have certainly failed.
Andrew doesn’t feel shy for his scars or his device. Instead, he proudly shows it, but the device is just a temporary solution until a new donor is found. Andrew has started a nonprofit called “Hearts at large” to encourage others to donate organs.
“It would be great one day for there to be no time to wait for an organ,” he said. “The moment someone needs a transplant, they will be able to get it the next day.”
In New England, 5000 people are waiting for transplants. 18 people die daily due to lack of organ donor for the transplant, and at every 10 minutes, a new person is added to the list of waiting for a transplant, Says Dr. Patricia Scheiner, Director of Transplant, Hartford Hospital.
A data from the United Network for Organ states, almost 12000 people in the US are waiting for an organ transplant to save their life. One donor can save up to 8 people, but 22 people die each because the donor is not found in time.
The device like LVAD can be helpful to keep patients alive until a donor is found, but the ultimate goal is to find a matching donor and to do a successful transplant.
Andrew Says, “Either I can dwell and feel sorry for myself, or I can continue doing the things that I love to do, the best way I can. And I haven’t stopped.”
Real life stories of Andrew and Stan really inspires us. It shows us we can achieve things in life if we have a real desire, nothing can stop us.