Heart transplant survivor encourages new patient - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Heart transplant survivor encourages new patient

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Colby Salerno and Andrew Jones share an unique bond. (WFSB) Colby Salerno and Andrew Jones share an unique bond. (WFSB)

A heart transplant survivor gave words of encouragement to someone who's waiting at Hartford Hospital for the life-saving operation.

Eyewitness News has been following the story of Colby Salerno.

Hartford Hospital is a place that Salerno knows quite well. On Wednesday, he was back to visit a patient on the heart transplant waiting list.

"In two days it'll be three years since I got my transplant and the difference is night and day,” Salerno said.

Salerno is 27 now, but he was diagnosed with a heart problem when he was 12. He was put on the transplant list at 22 years old and when he was 24, he got a new heart.

Salerno spent 180 days in a hospital, waiting, just like 25-year-old Andrew Jones. The two just met for the first time at Hartford Hospital.

"You can't help it, but feel like you're missing out on life,” Salerno said. “And I had that feeling when I was here and that was three years ago, in two days it'll be three years since I got my transplant."

Jones, or AJ as he's known, was pretty much in perfect physical shape. He even posted fitness videos online before a virus attacked his heart and caused it to start failing. Check out his YouTube channel, here

Jones has been at Hartford Hospital for less than two weeks.

"More recently, my heart really just kind of gave up,” Jones said. “I got really sick and I was having flu-like symptoms since Christmas, around Christmas."

Jones reached out after reading the blog Salerno wrote while he was hospitalized, called Tales from the 10th Floor. To read the full blog, click here. 

"He has the mindset that I admire though, to try and stay optimistic, to try and stay positive while you're in here,” Salerno said.

Salerno is doing great and just completed his first year in medical school with plans to become a heart doctor.

As for Jones, he's surrounded by family and a new friend as he waits for that life-saving operation.

"The number-one thing I'm definitely going to do is try and get in touch with the donor family and let them know that this was huge,” Jones said. “This was absolutely the best gift that anybody can get."

Salerno hasn't done much blogging because of medical school. He's now hoping Jones will pick-up where he left off, by contributing from his hospital room.

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