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By ACHA on 5/5/2014 11:59 AM

By James Bachenheimer

Being born with a single ventricle, my life was filled with challenges before I even knew how to hold my head up. By the time I was five years old I had already undergone four open heart operations, so I never really knew what it was like to be a healthy, active boy. I was Jimmy, the kid with the bad heart, the kid who you couldn't tackle while playing football, the kid who wore heart monitors to school—my health would always be what defined my life.

I reached adulthood and already had another operation under my belt (I was 11), the only one I truly remember before my 20s. I honestly never thought I would live to 30 but here I was about to turn 29. I was feeling pretty decent. On my 29th birthday I walked into a bar and sat down and chatted with a pretty blonde bartender.