Three years after transplant, Columbia man's new heart "changed - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Three years after transplant, Columbia man's new heart "changed everything"

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Every 10 minutes, someone is added to the National Transplant Waiting List. Here in South Carolina, close a thousand people are waiting for the gift of life.

Thursday is Organ Donor Registration Day, and Columbia native Steve Ford is sharing his story to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation.

Ford was sick off and on for 10 years beginning in 1996. It started with a heart attack.

"I was in and out with heart catherizations, medications, stents, I had a total of 8 stents," said Ford.

He had a pacemaker put in. He could barely walk without help from his wife. Eventually, doctors told him he needed a heart transplant.

"You have to look at life in a whole different way," said Ford. "You have to prepare yourself that you may not receive a transplant."

But Ford did get a transplant on July 4, 2010 -- his Independence Day.

"I never could visualize that I could ever feel good again, but the heart just changed everything," said Ford.

Three days after his surgery, he was already reaching milestones.

"Took me all day to do it, but I walked one mile that Saturday and I had never -- I could barely walk to my front door before the heart and it was just an incredible blessing," said Ford. "It was like going from night to day."

He says organ donation saved his life.

"You can be a hero," said Ford. "You can save a person's life forever by becoming an organ donor."

Ford says he didn't think he'd live to see his youngest grandchild's first birthday. This past February, she turned 3 years old. He is on a lot of daily medication, but this July 4 he will celebrate something special too -- three years with a new heart.

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