As a college student, Andrew Jones, 26, started training and competing as a fitness model, even earning his pro card.
But in 2012, while on a run, he noticed a major change in his ability to breathe.
“It kind of felt like my lungs had turned into sponges. Like I was breathing through a sponge. (Upworthy)
Doctors diagnosed him with viral cardiomyopathy, a disease that weakens and enlarges the heart, making it hard for the heart to pump blood through the rest of the body.
Jones, who lives in Farmington, Conn., needed a heart transplant, but already in the ICU for four months, he was too sick to wait. So, doctors gave him a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), or an artificial heart.
Today, Jones doesn’t have a pulse, but that hasn’t stopped him from hitting the gym like any professional athlete. The only difference is he has to carry a backpack at all times to keep his “heart” ticking.
“I’m pretty much the best looking zombie you’ll ever see,” he told Great Big Story.
While Jones awaits a heart transplant, he is working on growing his foundation, Hearts at Large, which offers support and inspiration to others who are waiting for life-saving organ transplants.