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Former cyclist nearly died waiting for new heart

Neal Stansbury was a teenager when he started cycling competitively. He quickly rose to the top, winning state and national championships and even setting a world record.At 57, he’s eager to get back on his bike when the weather breaks — propelled by his new heart.

Considering his racing career and active lifestyle, Stansbury isn’t someone you’d expect to have heart problems. He developed ventricular arrhythmia about 16 years ago. It worsened over time, and he was within a few weeks of death when he received a heart transplant in July.

“I kind of accepted the fact that I was going to die,” he said. “I really did. I kind of made peace with myself and everybody else.”

He’s come a long way since. The day we talked at his North Whitehall home, Stansbury had run seven miles on a treadmill. While rehabbing from his surgery, he won a fitness competition at his gym. He’s gone skiing. He ran his own half-marathon in his neighborhood and plans to run an official one before the one-year anniversary of his transplant. He intends to compete as a cyclist in the next Transplant Games of America, an Olympics-style event held every other year for transplant recipients.

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