Jake Hafer likes to say that he was born – on Valentine’s Day – with a broken heart.
He had hypoplastic left-heart syndrome, a congenital defect that meant only half his heart was working properly. He got a heart transplant when he was just 11 months old.
Sunday morning, he celebrated his 20th birthday – and National Donor Day – by talking about his experience in front of the giant heart at the Franklin Institute. With its mechanical thumping in the background, he told a small crowd that a gift from a stranger – his heart came from a 5-year-old in Atlanta – allowed him to be a high school athlete and now a history student at La Salle University.
“Transplant works, but only because of donors,” he said. “My donor is in heaven now and almost 20 years later his heart is still beating.”