Latest posts by Bryanna Briley (see all)
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Dr. DeWeever’s latest book helps black women realize their full potential- June 12, 2018
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An exhibition entitled “Here Hear” was previously on display at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Detroit, close to Cave’s alma mater.- October 17, 2016
- Body PositiveSpeaker Malia Anderson Talks Passion, Perseverance and Paying It Forward
“What if I just woke up every morning and said ‘This is my body and I love it.’ and then I went out the door and presented myself in the best possible way?”- October 9, 2016
Andrew “AJ” Jones is a fitness phenomenon, in spite of the fact that he does not have a discernible pulse or a working heart. He is a Farmington, Connecticut professional fitness model who relies on an artificial heart. Everywhere he goes, he carries his computer and batteries to keep his heart charged.
In 2015, Jones began to have breathing difficulties and cough up blood. Upon hospitalization, he was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and told he would need a heart transplant. The condition causes the heart muscle to thicken for no apparent reason, ultimately resulting in heart failure. While he waits for a transplant, he has a mechanical pump to transport blood throughout his body.
Jones did not let his heart issues derail his aspirations to be a fitness model. It was in 2009, while he was in college, that Jones first became interested in fitness. He found that working out helped ease the stress of being a college student. As he told Huffington Post, ““I loved the way it made me feel and the way it made me look. I remained consistent and passionate and my discipline and patience grew – and those qualities began to reflect in everything I did.”
In spite of the complications that came with having an artificial heart, Jones still felt motivated. After receiving his heart assist device, he says “I still felt resilient. I felt like nothing could beat me because I was still able to run, lift and participate in the activities that I loved.” This drive led him to compete in a fitness modeling competition, which he went on to win.
Jones is among 120,000 individuals currently on a transplant waiting list. To raise awareness about the need for organ donors, he set up his own foundation. The ‘Hearts at Large’ network helps to connect those in need of donations with donor resources. The network offers support, encouragement, and even financial assistance. Simultaneously, ‘Hearts at Large’ is attempting to increase the number of registered organ, eye, and tissue donors.
Though Jones is committed to his fitness regime, he still has to be careful. For example, “Right now I can do anything that doesn’t compromise the safety of my heart and my internal devices. I can only train my core with isometric (static) exercises.
“Doing sit-ups and crunches can irritate the entry port for my heart device and put me at risk of infection.”
Nevertheless, his future looks bright. Though he is saving up for his own home and car while he waits for an organ transplant, he recently received great news. He is now accepted to study business administration for a master’s degree. Though his heart has been a setback, he is patient (no pun intended) in the face of having to rebuild.
Via Instagram and his YouTube channel, Jones details his artificial heart journey. He also shares instructional fitness videos. He hopes that his story helps to motivate and inspire viewers and readers. Given his own experience, he has uplifting advice for others waiting on the transplant donor list: “Listen to your doctors and listen to your body. Stay healthy and believe in yourself.
“You are a light in a very dark room, which makes you the brightest.”