2016 Transplant and Organ Donation Calendar: Daniel Pekarsky
Daniel Pekarsky lives life to the fullest. In 1985, at age 38, he suffered a serious heart attack while riding on a bus in the mountains of northern Israel. Following the heart attack, he completely changed his lifestyle and focused on heart-healthy living.
Unfortunately, 10 years later he suffered cardiac arrest while jogging through New York's Central Park. He was implanted with a defibrillator, put on medications and then resumed his active, healthy life. He continued to work and play tennis, but lived in fear of his defibrillator going off. "That machine saved my life more than once," he says.
In 2004, Daniel began to feel a significant decline in his health. His capacity for exercise decreased and his angina worsened. In 2005 he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Although he continued to teach and travel, he struggled. Daniel worried that his life was over, but, like many people awaiting transplant, he dug deep within himself to keep going. "I had a very powerful desire to live," says Daniel. "I wanted to be there for my wife and son."
Daniel recalls the years in which he waited for his heart transplant as difficult. "It was a very difficult time," says Daniel. "Every day I felt like I could do less and less, but I wanted to keep working, to continue to be helpful to my family." Along with his determination and perseverance, Daniel found strength and unwavering support in his wife, Stephanie, and in the knowledge and data he researched about heart transplants. "I was very reassured by the survival rates and the outcomes data," says Daniel. "This also gave me the hope I needed to keep going."
Daniel received his heart transplant just a few days after Thanksgiving in 2011, and feels tremendous gratitude for the gift of life he was given. He also offers hope to those still waiting. "Just don't give up," says Daniel. "Hang in there as long as you can because it's simply amazing what can be done."
Today Daniel feels great. "It's a great blessing to live normally again," says Daniel. "I went from thinking that my life was over to asking myself how I wanted to live my new life." Daniel is back at work and he enjoys traveling and hiking with Stephanie.