Transplant: Brazilian with German Olympian's heart


Brazilian Ivonette Balthazar taps her chest where the transplanted heart of a German Olympic athlete beats hard.

"The little motor's in here," she says.

Three and a half months since a grueling but successful operation to replace her heart in the middle of the Rio Olympics, Balthazar, 66, is amazed and thankful to be alive.

But even as the huge scar running down her chest fades, the emotions of owing her own survival to a man she never met and who first had to die himself remain almost too much to handle.

Balthazar's health had been disintegrating ever since a heart attack in November 2012. By August of this year, she could hardly walk or talk.

"I was in despair," she told AFP in a rare interview at her small, neat apartment in Rio de Janeiro.

Then the Olympics came, bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists and the world's best athletes. Among them was Stefan Henze, a German canoing team coach who had won silver in the 2004 Athens Games. Continue reading 
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