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December 2018

James with his bike jpeg
Heart transplant recipient and Around the Bay participant James Sheppard.

Heartfelt thanks for a new lease on life

When James Sheppard received a heart transplant this year, a young relative had some reservations.

‘But is James still going to love everyone?’

Thankfully, Mr Sheppard’s new heart is in perfect working order – in every respect.

And the 32-year-old wants to make clear his feelings towards the people who gave him his new lease on life.

‘Thank you really isn’t enough,’ Mr Sheppard said of his donor and his donor’s family.

‘It’s the most generous gift that anybody could give.

‘It has brought a lot of joy for me and my family but I know that there is another family out there grieving the loss or their son or daughter or husband or wife.

It’s hard to put my gratitude into words.’

Mr Sheppard was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2017 – after several years of misdiagnosis – and he became gravely ill, with his weight dropping to 44kg.

Since his heart transplant at The Alfred, however, Mr Sheppard has been thriving.

In October, he participated in Melbourne’s Around The Bay 20km event and has plans to complete a 200km cycling route around rural Victoria early next year.

Mr Sheppard was among those marking DonateLife Thank You Day on November 18.

This national day, an initiative of the Organ and Tissue Authority (OTA), is dedicated to honouring all organ and tissue donors and their families.

It also acknowledges the work of donation and transplantation specialists, joined by many other health professionals, who care for donors, recipients and their families.

Each year, living and deceased donors and their families save and transform the lives of thousands of Australians through the gift of organ and tissue donation.

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