Heart Patient Runs Full Marathon after Surviving Transplant

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Husband and father was born with a congenital heart defect

Kevin Cobb of Rowlett, Texas, was born with a serious heart condition. For most of his 44 years, he has dreamed of completing a marathon, and it finally became a reality after recently receiving a heart transplant. This week, Cobb completed the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati in just over six hours.

“Before the transplant happened, I thought if I make it through this surgery, then I want to run a marathon. I’ve always wanted to see what it was like to be a runner since I was little,” said Cobb. “Someone is giving me their heart so I can live and I need to take care of it.”

Cobb’s first heart surgery took place at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center when he was 2 years old. Doctors diagnosed him with transposition of the great arteries (TGA) which occurs when the pulmonary artery and aorta are switched. As a result, newborns are born with a bluish appearance from the lack of oxygen in the blood. His parents brought him to Cincinnati Children’s from his birthplace in Dayton, Ohio, where the late surgeon, Dr. Jim Helmsworth, performed open heart surgery.

“In the early 1970’s, cardiac surgery was in its infancy and there wasn’t a lot to do for children born with these complex heart conditions,” said Tom Kimball, MD, a pediatric cardiologist and Medical Director of the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s. “Dr. Helmsworth was on the cutting edge and was able to do a surgery that allowed Kevin to survive.”

Cobb’s heart procedure at Cincinnati Children’s allowed him to grow up, get married and have three daughters. In 2014, his health started to fail and his name was placed on a heart transplant list. He received a new heart in October 2014 and a new lease on life. When doctors gave the approval, he started running and training for a marathon.

“I wanted to come back to Cincinnati to run my first marathon because this is where my life was first saved,” said Cobb. “I hope my story is an example to other children born with these complex heart problems that they can not only survive into adulthood but even run a marathon.”

Reproduced from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Newsroom, with permission.