Meet the fitness model who walked with his artificial heart in a backpack

December 13, 2019 at 02:00 pm | Lifestyle

Michael Eli Dokosi

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

December 13, 2019 at 02:00 pm | Lifestyle

Andrew “AJ” Jones makes good recovery 3 years after heart transplant surgery via Instagram

Life has taught us that there is no sure path for a protection against diseases or illness. Even fitness enthusiasts who spend a considerable time in the gym with banging bodies, ripped chest and six packs get afflicted with malady.

Not spared are vegans and those who even lead a life of moderation.

Perhaps no one exemplifies this more than Andrew “AJ” Jones, a professional fitness model from Farmington, Connecticut who was diagnosed in 2012 with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart muscle thickens without an obvious cause.

He needed a transplant but since he had to be on a waiting list, Jones received a left ventricular assist device, a mechanical pump that transports blood from the lower heart chamber throughout the body as a healthy heart would.

Essentially, Jones didn’t have a discernible pulse and a working heart describing himself as “I’m pretty much the best looking zombie you’ll ever see.”

Given that he relies on an artificial heart, Jones is constantly connected to two batteries and a computer that he carries in a backpack wherever he goes.

“I always have to have batteries charging,” he notes in an earlier video adding “At night, when I’m going to bed, I’ll plug my phone in, and then I’ll plug myself in.”

The remarkable thing about Jones is that coming to terms with his lot, he said he could either become melancholic and downcast or be his motivated self since the diagnosis. And it is the latter he chose. Although not having a self-functioning heart, Jones continued to do his press-ups and other gym routines even in his hospital ward with gadgets attached to him.

Jones has founded his own organization, Hearts At Large, to raise awareness for the need of donors and create a network for those in need of donations and in association with United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS); Jones found a matching donor and underwent a heart transplant three years ago.

Given that an organ donor can save up to eight lives, yet an average of 22 people die a day because an organ wasn’t available, Jones is ecstatic to have pulled through and be around although the journey had its trying moments.

In one of his Instagram posts, he submitted: “I also can’t believe tomorrow it will have officially been 3 years since I received my gift of life. Anything could have happened since then but because amazing transplant team at @hartford_healthcare and the OPO staff from my own company I am alive.”

Jones has been described as a source of inspiration by his followers on social media platforms as he shared updates on his health journey.  

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