Dozens of heart transplant survivors celebrate and share their stories in Hershey

HERSHEY, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- Dozens of people celebrated life, sharing their stories of having a new heart. Those people who gathered in Dauphin County are part of thirty years and nearly 500 success stories of patients who have received a new heart at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Fox 43 spoke with two patients from two different walks of life, both so grateful to be alive and healthy years after their transplants and so thankful to their donors.

"I'd just hug him. It is very emotional to think about, and I will see him again some day. I believe that," said Patti Miletta of Scranton, Lackawanna County. She received her transplant at Hershey Medical Center.

Patti Miletta says she was never a runner, but she has since become one after receiving a new heart ten years ago. It came after doctors at Penn State Hershey Medical Center discovered she had a genetic heart defect.

"When I run a run, I say, 'We run the run,'" said Miletta.

She celebrates her new heart by getting her blood pumping.

"Each one of these charms is a run I completed, that we completed, including two half marathons. They say that some recipients inherit traits of their donor," added Miletta.

Miletta and a dozen other transplant patients reunited at Hershey Medical Center to share their heartwarming stories. Among them? George Clopper, who also believes that he may have inherited some traits from his donor.

"A couple days after the heart, I was up running around the halls and everything," said Clopper.

Clopper says, that although he now suffers from a stutter and shakes, he's thankful for his dog Skeeter, who continues to help him recover, and to his donor who gave him a second chance at life.

"Thank you very much cause you saved my life," he added.

From the mid 1980's to date, there have been 487 heart transplant success stories at Hershey Medical Center. Officials say they will perform the operation on patients as soon as hearts become available.