The Beat Goes On

UC San Diego Health | Michelle Brubaker

Jon Marsh, Mark Girard and Carol Knott

When Jon Marsh walked into the hotel conference room with his wife and son, you could hear a pin drop. He was about to meet the father of the man whose heart was now beating in his own chest.

"A day of miracles is really the best way to describe it," said 44-year-old Marsh.

Marsh had suffered from heart failure as a result of a genetic condition. His health was declining so fast that a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), a mechanical heart, was implanted to keep him alive. Soon after, Marsh caught an infection from the device and became gravely ill. He was in a race against time for a donor heart.

"I started talking to my wife about arrangements after I passed away," said Marsh. "After the transplant, I not only had hope, I had a new beginning. The donor heart was the most precious gift."

It was the gift that kept on giving: Marsh was the second person to receive the heart, which was originally donated after the unexpected death of a 27-year-old man named Mark, called "Junior." Continue reading