Heart transplant

Heart Transplant Survivor shines as an award-winning international athlete. – InspirePlus

When it comes to life, Janet Dennis seems to live by the best principles: Live it. To like. Give the.


The Philadelphia woman takes nothing for granted and, as a heart transplant survivor, she took her second chance at life and turned it into gold…literally.



Janet is a world-traveling athlete who has won over 50 gold medals. After her heart transplant in 2005, she discovered the Donate Life Transplant Games of America and thrived in several events. She competed in swimming, shot put, discus, javelin and long jump.


“I wouldn’t believe at 67, I’m still doing the long jump,” Janet said.


Janet says that before the surgery that saved her life, her life was pretty predictable. She was a social worker for 35 years, she walked to work and even swam regularly. However, she began to experience an extremely high heart rate. Doctors also found fluid in his lungs.



Although she received a pacemaker and defibrillator, her heart disease progressed. Eventually, she had to be hospitalized until she could receive a life-saving transplant.


“They said a virus attacked my heart and put me in heart failure, which made no sense to me,” she said. “I have never been sick. The last time I was in the hospital was the day I was born. Are you telling me I need a new heart?


In 2005, Janet got the new heart she needed and celebrates the gift of life by giving back to others. She is a motivational speaker, chaplain and determined athlete who has traveled overseas to Sweden, South Africa and Argentina for the World Transplant Games. The really cool part: Janet thanks her donor family by sending them her medals. This small gesture of gratitude reminds her that her newfound ability to thrive would not be possible without the gift of her loved one.



Since retiring, Janet has remained active in her community and beyond. She became a full-time volunteer ambassador for the Gift of Life Donor program, a program that coordinates the recovery of organs and tissues for transplantation. She is also a speaker for the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, inspiring patients on the transplant waiting list to stay strong throughout their health journey.


More than anything, Janet is committed to raising awareness of the ongoing and critical need for more people to sign up to become organ and tissue donors.



“It’s important for people to understand that being an organ and tissue donor is helping save lives,” she says. “If they saw people who were waiting and knew their struggles, I think they would choose to help.”


Janet is certainly grateful that someone chose to not only help her, but to give her a second chance at life.


To share this story with your friends to remind them that second chances can create new beginnings.

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