Jack Church – Heart Warming Inspiring Story of Survival

Jack Church is running the Hawke’s Bay half marathon this weekend. Nothing extra special about a healthy young 26 year-old having a crack at this 21.1km running event, except this is no ordinary story.

In fact this is an extraordinary story about a man whose attitude is nothing short of inspirational and who just seven months ago was fighting for his life.

This time last year life was going along well for Jack. A Physical training instructor in the New Zealand Navy based at Davenport in Auckland, Jack was extremely fit, worked out in the gymnasium twice each day and played rugby and softball.
 
All of the sudden out of nowhere, Jack began to feel fatigued. It wasn’t a sudden thing and there was no pain involved, he just began feeling tired. First he cut down his workouts to one each day thinking he might be over training, but that did not improve his situation which got progressively worse and he initially thought it was his lungs.
 
When it got to the stage that just walking up stairs fatigued him he realised something was wrong. He rested for a week, that didn’t improve his situation so he went to the Navy doctor. A series of tests followed and results of those tests shocked Jack and his family and friends. His heart had swelled to over twice the size its normal size and he needed a heart transplant to save his life.

"The new device gave him some form of normal life, he could at least walk around, make his bed and do a few other small things ,but it was a mission carrying around two heavy pumps."

Before the transplant, Jack required a VAD (ventricular assistant device) insert operation done and this procedure was major in itself. He required open heart surgery to put the device in which basically kept his heart beating until a suitable donor heart became available.

The new device gave him some form of normal life, he could at least walk around, make his bed and do a few other small things ,but it was a mission carrying around two heavy pumps.

Jack was taken off the transplant list until his body had recovered sufficiently from the initial surgery and he became strong enough to endure another major surgery. Not too far down the track, his phone rang at 5am one morning and it was his cardiac surgeon saying they may have found a suitable heart.

For 11 hours surgeons included in a team of at least 10 people, worked on him placing the new heart in him and for five days afterwards Jack remained in an induced coma and doesn’t recall much about when he first woke up.

Gradually improving through daily rehab, Jack has now built back his muscle mass a strength to the stage where he’s able to tackle the half marathon, an amazing achievement considering the enormity of the transplant procedure and how recently it was done.

Looking forward to doing the Hawke’s Bay half marathon event this weekend, Jack is excited and grateful he’s got the opportunity to do it.

“It’s been a journey. Pretty much one in a million chances what I got. Did a genetic test in my family and doctors ruled out genetics being the cause.

“I was a little scared when I knew the transplant was happening but I just tried to stay positive. When I had the bag, I was carrying around 5kgs of extra weight. I had already lost an extreme around of weight (down from 85kgs to 67kgs). I was more excited about getting rid of the bags and what future has in store for me.”

Jack never previously thought about organ donations but is now fully aware of how important it is that people do donate their organs in the event of them dying.

Jack’s expectations for the half marathon are simple. He just wants to get from start to finish even if he has to walk some of the way and he’s got a great team of Navy mates doing the run with him and encouraging him along the way.

His harrowing health journey has given this amazing young man a new perspective on life. He knows how lucky he is and said he just wants to take every opportunity in his life that comes along and give it a crack.

Jack never previously thought about organ donations but is now fully aware of how important it is that people do donate their organs in the event of them dying.

Many of Jack’s mates have since committed to donating their organs having seen his life being saved because someone did just that.

Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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