First off, how are you feeling?
I’m feeling amazing I’ve started to jog and lift weights, the doctors say the hearts looking even better then they could have imagined.
Why did you need a heart transplant?
I needed the transplant because of my genetic disease cardiomyopathy which enlarge my heart and left me with an ejection fraction of 8 a normal heart is between 50-70 (Ejection fraction is a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts.)
How long did you have to wait for a heart transplant, and when did you receive your new heart?
I waited 3 months for a heart transplant needing VAD (ventricular assist device) half way through to get me healthy to my new heart. I received my transplant on 9/11.
What was the hardest part about waiting?
Hardest part about waiting was not knowing if it would be 1 week or 1 year. [to receive a transplant]
What was your reaction when you got the news that you were going to have the transplant?
I was in total shock I went from playing football and lacrosse to one month later needing a new heart but I would try to be stoic for my family.
What was the first thing you noticed with your new heart?
The first thing I noticed was how normal the heartbeat felt. For the first time in 4 months it wasn’t just one big bump, I could feel the two separate beats.
Having a heart transplant can restore normalcy to one’s life. What is something you are able to do now that you weren’t while you were sick?
I can walk more then 100 yards now so that’s nice! But I’m jogging again soon to be full on running. Breaking a sweat is one thing I really took for granted before all of this.
Before you became ill you were playing football in high school, how has your team and your high school been a part of your journey?
Yea! My town has been outstanding throughout my time in the hospital I got so many prayers from people I’ve never met, flowers, gifts and support from everyone. My team visited me many times and they all wore “Danny Strong” t-shirts that one of my coaches made.
How did needing a transplant affect your family?
My family has been through so much this summer but we came out as a stronger unit and overall a more thankful family.
What does the future have in store for Danny Deitz?
Next year I intend to be the kicker for my football team. I also hope to help people who are also experiencing heart defects. My family has already created the Danny Strong fund for Boston Children’s Hospital to research cardiomyopathy but I just want to do more to give back.
What piece of advice would you give someone who is going through the similar adversity you experienced?
No matter what you have to keep looking up. Life may not seem fair but things get much better and life comes back quicker than you could imagine.