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Return Home > Heart transplant recipient becomes world-traveling gold-medal athlete

Heart transplant recipient becomes world-traveling gold-medal athlete

By Matt Iadonisi via 6abc

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) — “I would not believe, at 67, I’m still like, doing the long jump,” said Janet Dennis.

Dennis never considered herself a very active person throughout most of her life. She spent 35 years as a social worker for the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia. And while climbing stairs to reach her train, she noticed she felt out of breath.

“They said a virus attacked my heart and put me in heart failure, which made no sense to me,” she said. “I never had been sick. The last time I was in the hospital was the day I was born. You’re telling me I need a new heart?”

One pacemaker and defibrillator later, Dennis needed a heart transplant. And luckily, she received one in 2005.

“I just want them to know how thankful and grateful I am,” she said. “And I’m having the time of my life. I’m doing stuff I would have never did before.”

That includes becoming a gold-medalist at the Transplant Games of America. Traveling nationwide and to countries across the world, Dennis competed in swimming, shot put, discus, and long jump for a total of 51 medals.