Justin Feria

At age 26, Justin Feria was given the worst news of his life: he could die from the same disease that killed both of his parents, his father when he was just two years old and his mother when he was 16 – heart disease.

With his health declining and prescription drug therapy not helping much, doctors determined he was a suitable transplant candidate and put him on the waiting list for a heart. Fortunately, Justin didn’t have to wait long. Just a couple of months later, he got the call that a possible match had been found for him. He went into surgery that night and woke up the next morning with a new heart. Eleven days later he went home.

Just a few years, and a few half and full marathons later, Justin competed in the Ironman Arizona triathlon, a 140.2-mile race to be completed in 17 hours. He signed up with four other heart recipients, dubbed “The Tin Men” after the Tin Man in the “Wizard of Oz” who needed a heart. Justin came in just six miles short of the clock, but he still swam, pedaled and ran 134 miles with a transplanted heart! Justin is determined to try again to officially go from Tin Man to Iron Man.

Justin doesn’t know who his donor was, but says, “I owe a great deal of appreciation to my family, friends, doctors, nurses and staff at Sharp Healthcare for supporting me while I was sick. But I owe everything I have accomplished since March 21st, 2009 to my donor and her family for giving me the greatest gift I will ever receive.”

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