A 44-year-old Galway ‘miracle man’ will participate in his fifth marathon today - nine years to the day of his life-saving heart transplant.
This time nine years ago Ernesto Antonio, who grew up in Bushy Park, was fighting for his life while chronically ill with severe heart failure. The father of one was given just hours to live in October of 1999 when his life was spared at the last minute by an organ donor who provided Antonio with a heart, and since then he has gone through a physical regime that has resulted in his participation in relay swim races across the English Channel and five Olympic distance triathlons.
“Thankfully I got the gift of life from that donated heart, and I have tried to use that gift as best as I can in the intervening years. I have done four marathons since,” said Mr Antonio. “My fastest time to run a marathon is three hours and 53 minutes, which is the fastest done by any heart transplant recipient anywhere in the world. I hope to run well in Dublin [today] but I wouldn’t make any predictions about beating that time,” he said.
“My motto now and for the future is ‘live each day as if it’s your last’,” said Mr Antonio. “I am eternally grateful to have been given the incredible chance to live again, and I believe that others should be granted this opportunity too.”
“I am happy to show what a healthy life a person can lead after getting a new organ. I strongly encourage people to carry organ donor cards,” said Mr Antonio.
To get an organ donor card, freetext ‘Donor’ to 50050 or visit www.ika.ie Organ donor cards are also available nationwide from pharmacies, GP surgeries, and Citizen Information Offices.