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Waterloo man stresses the importance of becoming an organ donor after heart transplant saves his life

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 8:39 PM CDT
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WATERLOO, Iowa (KCRG) - A routine checkup led to the need for a new heart for a 36-year-old eastern Iowa man. Marcus Jones, of Waterloo, got the heart needed at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Now, he’s talking about the importance of becoming an organ donor and to get yearly checkups.

Jones had dealt with heart failure for years, but he didn’t think he would need a new heart at the age of 36. He’d get winded playing with his kid. His doctor told him his heart was barely functioning when he got the transplant last year.

“Those situations were very scary,” Jones said. “I tried to push through it because I’m young, and sometimes what we do as young people, I was actually a heavy guy, I was about 290 [lbs.].”

Dr. Michael Viray performed the procedure. He says heart problems can be common with young people, especially if it’s hereditary.

“It’s tricky for younger individuals because they feel good for several years,” Viray said. “I have one that’s really sick, and still tolerating playing basketball.”

Jones knew a new heart would give him a new life, using that second chance to advocate for people to become organ donors.

“One organ donor saves many lives,” Jones said. “It’s just important to become an organ donor.”

Viray also touched on the importance of people signing up to become organ donors.

“There’s many more people that are sick and waiting for a new heart, than the actual transplants we do,” he said.

Jones is exercising now and not taking any days for granted. His new heart, helping him be there for the person who has his heart.

“I have a 3-year-old that keeps me on the go,” he said.

Click here for more information on how to become an organ donor.

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