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My name is Alejandro Mata and I am from Venezuela (South America). In September 2005, when I was 25 years old I was diagnosed with heart disease called dilated cardiomyopathy. My heart was progressively becoming enlarged and I was having fast, abnormal heart rhythms called ventricular tachycardia.
The first time I almost died was when I suffered from this life threatening arrhythmia, which was successfully converted at the hospital.
In February 2006, it happened again. At this moment they put in my ICD (Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator) and started me on some medicines to prevent the arrhythmias from re-occurring and ultimately preventing my death.
Everything was going well until May 2010 when I was shocked by the ICD because of the ventricular tachycardia.
At that moment, the doctors diagnosed me with heart failure. My heart was getting larger and weaker. My enlarged heart caused me to have a lot of ventricular arrhythmias and I was shocked by my ICD multiple times. These were the most miserable moments of my life when I was filled with fear, distress, hopelessness, sadness and disappointment.
My doctor in Venezuela tried to help me, but we reached a point where nothing else could be done. In September 2010 I was referred to St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. I was subjected to many surgeries to help my heart recover its strength. I was put on the heart transplant list and the doctors told me I needed a LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device) for my heart because my heart was really weak. This pump would keep me alive until a heart transplant became available.
In January 2011, my heart was the weakest ever. I could not walk, breath, eat, sleep, or do anything enjoyable. So, I underwent surgery and received the LVAD in February of that year. It was my “bridge to the transplant” as the doctors said. It worked well and I felt much better. In fact, I started to recover my strength and I was getting back to living a normal life.
On the 10th of July, five months after I got my LVAD, I received my miracle; the priceless gift of a new heart. I couldn’t believe what was happening to me and I felt so happy that God had put His precious eyes on me that day.
This gift from God has provided me a new opportunity of life; a second chance. This is an opportunity to stay in this world, to help people, to raise my son, to carry hope, to be a better man and to live a better life. I have a 4 year old son and he always prayed, “God, send Daddy a new heart.” He would say that every night and God listened to him and gave us this precious gift of life. Today, I can walk the farthest I’ve ever walk. I can eat, sleep, and breathe and have a completely normal life. I can aspire and keep working towards my dreams in hope that they become true. I’m healthy enough to play with my son, to teach him how to live and to remind him that there is always hope. I’ve learned that everyday is a miracle and that the simplest things in life are the greatest ones. Also, I used to work at an oil company as a mechanical engineer and I was recently called to go back to work, so I’ll be working soon.
Being a Heart Exchange Support Group Volunteer is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. I feel I am giving back a piece of what I have once received; encouragement. I like visiting patients, sharing my experiences and provide them with support, hope, and faith.