As the H1-N1 hype simmers down, one Syracuse man carries the scars of the first swine flu outbreak in the 1970s. But instead of the bug, he took ill from the vaccine. That one shot turned him into a bit of a medical marvel and like a gladiator, he has returned to the operating room, again and again, only to stand victorious, but beat up for sure.
You may remember Bruce Murray as Central New York's first successful heart transplant patient. After his new heart, the early anti-rejection drugs eventually destroyed Bruce's kidneys, so he had a kidney transplant. Another side effect ate away at his hips, so that he's had both replaced. And as if this wasn't enough, he also had Legionnaire's disease from one hospital stay that caused him to have a stroke, while he was originally waiting for his heart. He was actually taken off the transplant list because of the stroke, but later recovered enough to again be a candidate. That was 25 years ago. The longest living heart transplant is now 27 years.
Bruce said it is impossible to express in words the feelings he has for those that gifted him with their organs. A 17-year- old boy's heart from St. Louis, MO. and a 40 year old woman's kidney from the New York City area. Their actions to be organ donors literally gave him life. It's a feeling so intense -- like trying to explain love.
With his new heart Bruce found his purpose. That was to educate people on the very gift of life he had received.
For many years he has been a spokesperson for organ donor registration and also for the American Heart Association.
Now, as Bruce approaches his 60th birthday this June, this year also marks 25 years with his new heart, 13 year with his new kidney, and nine years with the new hips, so his friends and family are gathering at Riley's on Park Street for an event called "The Bionic Bash."