Healthcast: Thanking heart donors

Local News

In a perfect example of the importance of becoming an organ donor, a 90-year-old California man is still going strong and loving life 23 years after receiving a new heart. 

He’s is now on a mission to find his donor’s family so he can personally thank them. 

Jack Sunzeri’s heart still beats strong for his brideAngiee of 68 years.  

“I have a beautiful wife who took care of me. My wife is my angel. Angie is my angel,” Sunzeri said.

They promised to stick with each other in sickness and in health and that’s just what they’ve done. 

23 years ago the couple feared their love story may come to come to an end. 

“I had a cardiac arrest, my heart stopped,” Sunzeri said.

After suffering countless heart attacks, doctors told jack he would need a new heart. 

“I asked my nurse.. I said honey how much time do I have to live and she said you really want to know?

I said yes please tell me and she said, well probably a week if the heart doesn’t come in within a week you are going to be gone.” 

Jack says the nurse came back with some news. 

“She went out she came back five minutes later and she said we have a heart for you.” 

The day was November 9, 1995. 

“I busted out into tears,” Sunzeri said.

The transplant happened at the California Pacific Medical Center in the bay area where they both used to live. 

“I got his heart and I will tell you that heart has been so good to me.”

More than two decades have passed but he hasn’t forgotten the man possibly from the palo alto area 

Who gave him a new lease on life. 

“I said i’m going to call the donor association to find out something about my donor and i got a hold of them and they said the family didn’t want to be reminded of their loss,” Sunzeri said.

The donor association gave him some limited information. 

“He was a male, he was 44 years old. He had a brain aneurism and he just went to sleep.”

He and his wife angie hope the donor’s family will recognize the story and reach out. 

“It’s wonderful if we can meet them that would be nice,” Mrs. Sunzeri said.

“I would love to make contact with that family if there was some way of,” Sunzeri said. “I think they would be so proud to see that i’m still here at 90 doing as well as i am. I want to thank them from the bottom of their heart, my heart.”

April 30 is jack and angie’s 69 wedding anniversary which is a huge milestone, they say, is only possible due to organ donation. 

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