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What is a heartbeat? Scientifically, it’s an arterial palpation, the rhythm of survival itself as the heart pumps blood throughout arteries to deliver the oxygen and nutrients our bodies need to function. As both the ticking clock of our time on Earth and the metronome of the emotions that make us human, our pulses are who we are. For Andrew Jones, there has to be more, though. He doesn’t have a heartbeat.
You’d never know it by looking at him. Seriously. As a fitness model, Jones’s life revolves around the gym—sweating, stretching, pumping and bleeding his way to be in the best shape.
However, Jones almost had to give up his profession when he was diagnosed with a severe cardiomyopathy—literally, his heart stopped working. The motor of his body failed to do its primary job, and the beat was fading. The medical solution to this severe ailment is a technological wonder in a backpack: a battery-powered, computer-operated motor that stimulates Jones’s heart so he can live. The backpack’s hum is the closest thing he has to an actual pulse.
Although he has to plug his “heart” in next to his phone when he goes to sleep, Jones has never let up. After his doctors attached his battery-powered, backpack-carried heart, he got back to work in the gym. Slowly, at first, Jones rebuilt his strength and physique with his Camelbak heart in tow. Now, Jones is in the best shape of his life—he likes to joke that he’s “the best-looking zombie you’ll ever see.”
The only differences he shows are the scars from his surgeries, and yet those show his strength. Even as a model, Jones finds his scars are a source of pride, visual marks of the story he’s lived as he continues do what he loves the best he can. While he is waiting for a suitable transplant opportunity should a donor organ become available, he’s holding nothing back and living fully.
UPDATE: A few months after this story first published in July 2016, Andrew Jones was matched with a heart and underwent a successful heart transplant surgery. He continues to live in good health with his transplant heart.
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