Heart recipient has special appreciation for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is the day of love, but for Joe Mansaray, it’s not about who has his heart, but instead, who gave their heart to him.

“If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have this second life. I wouldn’t be able to do what I love. I wouldn’t be able to spend time with my family and friends,” said Joe.

The star soccer player found out he had cardiomyopathy— a heart disease, that for him, had no cure.

It was three years ago, almost to the day, when Joe got the call they found a match for a new heart.

And within hours, he was wheeled into the operating room, having his broken heart replaced with a new, working one.

Scary for any 16 year-old boy, especially one who had just lost his mother to the same surgery for the same disease.

“At the time I thought, 'Okay, my mom got a heart transplant and it looks like I might get a heart transplant if my heart doesn’t heal on its own,' and I didn’t really want one because I’d seen what had happened to my mom,” said Joe.

Dwendy Johnson, community relations supervisor for the Gift of Life donor program, says there are 7,500 people like Joe and his mother here in Pennsylvania waiting for a vital organ transplant, and registering to become a donor is the greatest act of love you can offer.

“Why not? You saw Joe and the amazing things that he has done with his life so far, and the fact that somebody has passed away, but I would like to leave a legacy and help someone else during their time of need,” said Johnson.

Because today is more than just Valentine’s Day…

“Giving of yourself is what we do on this day…” said Johnson.

It’s also National Organ Donor Day.

“And being able to do that through organ donation and expressing that through your loved ones and helping others, it’s a perfect day to do that,” said Johnson.

And the kindness of the heart of Joe’s donor, now beats within Joe every day.

“If it wasn’t for the donor, I wouldn’t be alive. And I’m just thankful and blessed for all that,” said Joe.

Thanks to his donor, Joe was able to go back to playing soccer his senior year of high school, and even go to prom, graduate, and begin college at Millersville University.

Joe says as he works to complete his degree in political science, he also plans to try out for the Millersville soccer team.

If you would like to register to be an organ donor, click HERE.

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