Ironman receives new heart on Christmas Day at OSU Ross Heart Hospital

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– Doctors and nurses hustle down a corridor lined with rooms at the Ohio State University’s Ross Heart Hospital.  Inside those rooms, there are stories.  Some are happier than others and in this case, one room is filled with a Christmas Day miracle made possible by modern medicine.

Dan Leite says, “When I woke up, it was a new day for me.”  He explained from his hospital bed, “After three and four years of not waking up any day, I had an opportunity to feel good.”

An ironman, Leite had run more than 150 marathons. He’s athletic and fit, yet learned four years ago he had congestive heart failure.

It was not a gift under a tree this Christmas, but much needed wish that was finally answered.

Dan Leite adds, “When my wife Emily and I would go to bed at night, we would have our cell phones on because you just never knew when you were going to get the call.”

That call came on Christmas Eve.  Ross Heart Hospital Cardiac Surgeon Dr. Ahmet Kilic, said “The privilege of seeing a new heart beat that has been out of somebody selfless enough to donate, and take its first heart beats at 12:07, in his case, is just wonderful.

Doctors and nurses at the Ross Heart Hospital prepared as one family gave the gift of life.  Leite explained, “I also had such sympathy for the family who made such a courageous decision to be a donor because I will never be able to repay them.”

That gift allows this newlywed and marathon runner to make more memories with his wife and strive to cross that finish line again.

Leite hopes more people will consider becoming organ donors so stories like his become more prevalent. He added, “You’re new heart starts beating on Christmas morning. That’s a story book ending. I’m hopeful we’ll create more story book endings.  Every day is Christmas if you get a gift like that. It doesn’t matter what day you get it.”

This was the 25th heart transplant performed at Ohio State’s Ross Heart Hospital in 2015

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