Edit ModuleShow Tags

Heart to Heart


Published:

CHARLIE DEISE DIED on the hospital table—twice. During a five-year span, the Golden Hill denizen suffered multiple major heart attacks. But that’s the beginning of the story. A heart transplant enabled Deise to jumpstart a new life as a competitive swimmer and championship chess player. Now 50, he recently married for the first time.

A Type 1 diabetic since he was 8, Deise’s hopes and dreams were cast into limbo when he suffered his first heart attack at 31. By 40, the disease snowballed into its final stages, attacking his cardiovascular system, eyesight and ability to work. Because of his diabetes, Deise was turned down by three heart-transplant programs.

In 1991, he became a patient of Dr. Marcelo Rivera. A month later, Deise was transported to Pomerado Hospital in major cardiac arrest. It took a team of five specialists 12 days to stabilize him. His chances of survival approached zero. It took Rivera nine months to get Deise an appointment with UCSD’s Heart & Lung Transplant Program—a rare accomplishment for a Type 1 diabetic.

Deise got his new heart in 1992. “I felt better almost immediately after the transplant,” he says. “It was an epiphany of sorts. When I got home a week later, my buddy called and said, ‘The good news is: You’re going to live. The bad news is: Now you have to get a life.”

Deise soon discovered the U.S. Transplant Games. Founded in 1982, it’s a four-day athletic competition for transplant patients from 50 states. Deise joined Team Southern California. He competed in the 50- and 100-yard breaststroke at the 2000 Games in Orlando, Florida.

“I may not have won a medal at my first competition, but now that I’m 50, I’ll be the youngest in my age category,” he says. Funding from the YMCA helps allow him to train five days a week. He’s now seeking corporate sponsors for the World Transplant Games, scheduled for June in Nancy, France.

Deise hopes his return from the brink is an inspiration not just for diabetics but for anyone who thinks youth may be too far in the rear-view mirror. “You don’t ever have to give up,” he says.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

27 Reasons to Love San Diego

Our annual list of all things San Diego and rad—from kiteboarding to urban farming to a city-wide book club

Get Fit & Have Fun in San Diego

From doggie bootcamps to intense bodybuilding programs, it’s an exciting time to get in shape. What are you waiting for?

Juice!

Meet the local juicers, fasters, entrepreneurs, newbies, and lifers helping the cold-pressed craze become a permanent way of life
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. 10 Best New Restaurants in San Diego
    Our food critic picks the top 10 new restaurants of 2014. Time to add these hotspots to your must-try list.
  2. FIRST LOOK: Stella Public House & Halcyon
    Stella Public House and Halcyon open in East Village near Downtown San Diego. Part coffeehouse, part Neapolitan pizza joint, park cocktails and craft beer, part tableside s'mores.
  3. San Diego New Year’s Eve Guide
    Ring in 2015 at these parties, concerts, dining, and family-friendly events
  4. 25 BIG Ideas
    Fascinating San Diego people inspire us with big, bold ideas on everything from genomics to urban planning, art to architecture, food and more
  5. About that story we "stole"...
    8 things to ask yourself before you accuse a publication of stealing your stuff and barf all over their beautiful Facebook page
  6. Food Self-Righteousness Is For Assholes
    Gawker calls foie gras eaters lots of bad names. A response.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

Valentine's Day Giveaway

Win Tickets to the Rotterdam Philharmonic and dinner at Mr. A's
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags