Heart transplant gives Centerville man second chance at life

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Centerville man gets heart transplant, commits to competitive running

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The heart that pounds in Mike Symanow’s chest while he runs isn’t his own.

Six years ago, the 31-year-old Centerville man received a heart transplant and is now committed to leading an active lifestyle. Competitive running is his sport of choice.

“I want to live every day to the absolute fullest. Basically, I want to explore the world, go off and pretty much pursue my hobbies,” Symanow said.

At an early age, Symanow was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart disease that increases the size of the organ until it can no longer function. A heart transplant performed at the Cleveland Clinic in 2010 saved his life.

“I remember waking up and one of the first things I noticed was, I was warm … I was genuinely warm for one of the first times ever,” Symanow said.

Dr. Mazen Hanna of the Heart Failure Intensive Care Unit at the Cleveland Clinic says many patients are not getting a transplant and die waiting for a donation.

“He was very ill, he was very limited with respect to breathing, his energy,” Hanna said.

It was while recovering from the operation that Symanow, determined to lead a new life, decided to take up running.

“I started running shorter distances, quarter mile at a time, half a mile at a time, and I was able to build that up over the last couple of years to be able to run 5ks, 10ks, half marathons and soon-to-be marathons,” he said.

Hanna says Symanow is a “poster child” for post-transplant outcomes.

Grateful for the second chance at life his donor gave him, Symanow encourages people to become organ donors.

“I’m extremely grateful for the sacrifice that my donor, the donor family, made to be able to get me to where I am today,” he said.

This weekend Symanow will participate in the Transplant Games of America for the first time. With the event’s location in Cleveland, he says he feels he’s come full circle.