Don Salamone, Transplant Recipient
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Checking out was not an option...
My name is Don Salamone and I am a heart recipient. Being a lifetime hardcore runner, the last thing that ever entered my mind through the years was that my heart would cause me health issues. After all, I had been running and competing all my life. I had a perfect diet and did everything by the book. Well, life threw me a curveball when a virus got to my heart about six years ago and started to do its thing.
Slowly, it weakened my heart to the point where I had to get a transplant or I was checking out. Checking out was not an option. In October of 2012, a donor heart came with my name on it. I was called in from home for my heart and eight days later I walked out of the hospital with young strong beating heart. I have tried a few times to reach out to the donor’s family but with no luck. Maybe someday they will find out the amazing things I have done with their gift to me.
I have been able to return to my passion of running and competing in road races. Five months post-transplant, I ran a local 5k road race and finished 2nd in my age group (55-59) running 3.1 miles at 7:30 seconds per mile. Not as fast as I ran before my transplant, but that is not important to me. Just to pursue my passion and let others know anything is possible after a transplant is what I want people to know.
Since that first race, I have continued to run and race at all different distances up to a 1/2 marathon (13.1 miles). Even though it has only been about 17 months post-transplant I have run times I believe no heart transplant recipient could ever run. I now run 6-7 miles a day usually 6-7 days a week. I won’t kid you that it is easy, it is not. Mental and physical resiliency have always been part of my life because of my competitive running past. Without those tools, this journey could have gone in a much different direction.
I truly believe the journey I am on is not in my hands. I do the best I can with my life skills and God takes it from there. God bless all that have helped me along the way.