September 28, 2008
Man Feels Heart-Felt Connection With Donor
By SYDNEY SCHWARTZ
DUXBURY - George Senerchia has the dreams of a 51-year-old Boston woman.Senerchia, 55, of Northford, Conn., received a heart transplant from the woman on Nov. 6, 2004. He has written letters to the woman's two children, which he believes they have received. But he hasn't heard back.
This weekend he's coming to the South Shore to run in the Duxbury Beach Triathlon. He's hoping someone here will know more about his donor, the woman he calls his "Boston girl."
Senerchia is participating on a team with Tom Colligan, 71, and Pete Kenyon, 70 - the latter of whom received a heart transplant from Colligan's son.
But his reason for participating are a little different. For him, it is hard not to know who his donor was, he said.
"Being involved with Pete and Tom, it's very very uplifting and rewarding for me. Those two have a definite connection," he said. "What's very hard for me is I do not know who that woman was."
"I'm doing this, my part of the triathlon, in memory of my donor," he said. "In hopes that some how, some way, someone in her family, someone who knew her, will read what I'm doing with her heart, this 51-year-old heart from my Boston girl."
Senerchia suffered from a disease called berylliosis, caused by copper beryllium poisoning from high voltage wires he worked with. He waited for a heart for four years, and had a non-FDA-approved heart pump for nine months. Today he volunteers as a heart transplant peer mentor at Yale New Haven Hospital, where he received his transplant. He also raises money for people in need through Northford TimberFramers Transplant Fund, a non-profit he started in 2002.
A participant in the U.S. Transplant Games, Senerchia now swims two miles a week and walks two miles a day.
He wants to be able to tell this to his donor's children, to express to them how tremendously grateful he is. He wants them to know "that their mother's heart did not go to waste."
Senerchia knows his donor died of a brain aneurysm, leaving a son and a daughter. He knows his heart came from Massachusetts General Hospital. He has written three letters to the children, including one about three weeks ago.
He says he feels their mother with him always and believes he has her dreams. He has visions of people he's never met and places he's never been.
And, he said, he can't stop buying shoes. He's bought at least 30 pairs since his transplant.
"I want them to know how grateful I am and I want them to know that I contribute to the betterment of man kind every day that I breath," he said.
"I long for and pray for the day when I can hug my donor's daughter," he said. "Because it haunts me that I have her mother's heart."
Sydney Schwartz may be reached at [email protected]
Originally published by By SYDNEY SCHWARTZ, The Patriot Ledger.
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