Heart transplant recipient retraces 5K journey during Dash for Donation

Local News

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – It’s about a 5 kilometers roundtrip between Tyler Cummins’s home in the Short North and the Ross Heart Hospital at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center. He took the trip in February 2019, driving the first leg by himself just minutes after receiving a life-changing phone call.

“By the time I was in the hospital bed, wheeled into surgery, was two hours from the phone call,” Cummins explained.

Four years earlier, doctors diagnosed him with congestive heart failure. For several years, he underwent tests and procedures to correct the issue before he was added to the organ transplant list at both the Wexner Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic.

“Knowing my blood type, I knew my chances of receiving a heart sooner [rather] than later were slim,” he said.

Receiving a match was a bittersweet occasion, knowing his gift of life was the result of tragedy.

“You can understand the surgery, the science of what’s going on,” he said. “But to understand that an individual had to lose their life in order to give you one of your own, it’s hard to swallow and digest and to take it all in while you’re recovering.”

His partner Adam Yates added, “Knowing that there are people out there that are really selfless to say, ‘When it’s my time to leave the world, let me pass on a gift to help somebody else…’ My person is here and I’m fortunate for that.”

On Sunday, family and friends helped Cummins honor the life-saving gift and raise awareness for organ, eye, and tissue donation. With the in-person Dash for Donation derailed by the COVID-19 health crisis, the small group organized their own 5K run from Cummins’s home to the Ross Heart Hospital and back.

“I remember taking [the route] very specifically and I remember all the phone calls I had to make on the way down there,” Cummins said. “So it’ll be a memory of that day and all that excitement that led up to this life I get to lead now.”

One donor can save up to eight lives and heal a dozen others. Cummins and his family encourage more people to register as organ, eye, and tissue donors.

“You select ‘donate’ today and your life doesn’t change. But that simple selection when the time comes can completely alter the life of someone else,” Cummins explained.

In Ohio, approximately 3,100 people are waiting for organ transplants, including roughly 700 in central Ohio. Learn how to become a donor here.

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