When Jordan Marcia needs to schedule one of his regular appointments at the Heart Transplant Clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital, it isn’t as easy as just looking at his calendar. He is never sure exactly where he’s going to be. For the past few years, the 26-year old has been a world nomad in a quest to be the first heart transplant recipient to travel to every country. Jordan says, “At a young age, I realized life is really short. We only have one chance at this, so if you want to do something, you have to go out and do it.”
By all accounts, Jordan shouldn’t even be alive. Born with a rare, congenital heart condition, he underwent multiple surgeries and spent most of his early years of life in the hospital. At the age of three, he also contracted a rare lung disorder. This meant even more time in the hospital dealing with invasive procedures, and by then, Jordan was barely clinging to life. His heart transplant was his 13th surgery. Even that was touch and go, as Jordan recalls, “After I got the transplant, the new heart stopped as I was coming out. The doctor had to put his hand in my chest and pump his heart with his hands.”
For five years, Jordan enjoyed living life like a regular kid. Then another dramatic turn – he was diagnosed with lymphoma in his appendix. It was treated quickly and he made a full recovery, though always mindful of what he had been told at the time of his transplant: ten years was about the average survival rate for a heart transplant recipient. He felt the clock ticking.
That’s why, three years ago, when the Langley resident saw a YouTube video of someone who was traveling around the world, he didn’t just think about it, or plan for ‘sometime’ in the future. He came up with a plan, convinced his mom and his medical team, and then got on an airplane. Jordan has been to 12 countries so far, including Thailand, Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka.
He will be celebrating 22 years with his gift of life soon, hopefully at his next destination, the Philippines. That’s more than double the life he thought he’d have, so he isn’t wasting any moment. And he urges other transplant recipients to go and live their lives to the fullest too. “Every day, I wake up in the morning and breathe, or I get to look outside and see the sun, rain or snow, it’s phenomenal, amazing. It’s an opportunity that I might have never had if I didn’t have this chance at a second life.”
Are you registered?
Visit BC Transplant’s website to register online. National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week is April 22 to 29.
St. Paul’s Hospital is BC’s adult Heart Transplant Centre as well as one of two kidney transplant centres in the province.
Learn more about our transplant centre here: http://www.providencehealthcare.org/organ-transplants
Check out Jordan’s story