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Louis Commisso

Age: 56

Transplant: Heart - July 6, 1996

Team: Arizona

Events: Softball throw, shot put, racquetball (singles and doubles)

My Story: I was 54 years young, taking good care of myself by taking vitamins, exercising, participating in sports, and being a commercial electrician (which is physically demanding also) so I considered myself in pretty good shape. My wife Colleen would always ask people we met, not right away of course, how old they thought I was. They would reply 40-45. She was proud of the way I looked for my age. Then the day came--the day that changed my life forever--March 7, 1995. I got up, felt very weak, out of breath, and my heart was racing. My wife was getting dressed to go to work, she noticed how I was feeling and immediately called our family doctor for an emergency appointment. He said to come right in. When we got there I told him what I was feeling and he had the nurses check my blood pressure and heart rate. I don't remember what my pressure was, the only thing I remember hearing was "pulse 217". He immediately took chest x-rays and called a cardiologist that had an office on the second floor in the same building to come down and look at me. As soon as he looked at the X-ray he urged my doctor to call the paramedics to transport me to the hospital ICU immediately for further tests. To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy that was caused by a flu-type virus. They said my heart was the size of a football and needed a heart transplant. I was evaluated for a heart transplant at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, and was ninth on the list. One year and four months later I was transplanted and doing fine.

My Message to the World: I believe that everyone should be an organ donor. Why not give someone a second chance at life. You might say that you don't believe in organ donation, just ask yourself, would I still believe the same way if that someone was me or someone I love. I know, for a fact, if it wasn't for an organ donor I would not be here today writing this message. I want to personally thank all organ donors and their families for giving me that second chance.

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Last modified: 11 May 2000