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'So thankful to have a second chance at life' | Butler HS football coach recovering after heart transplant

Denzel Irvin is 26-years-old, a former UNC Charlotte football player and personal trainer. He was shocked to learn his heart was failing.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Butler High School assistant football coach is home and recovering after a terrifying month. At the end of March, he started experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms but when he tested negative, got worse and went to the hospital, he learned it would be a much harder battle. He needed a heart transplant.

Not everyone gets the chance to ring the bell at Atrium Health’s Carolinas Medical Center, it’s a sign of a successful organ transplant.

“The odds of getting a heart are slim. It could take months. It could take years,” Denzel Irvin said.

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His situation was so dire, and the transplant was such a high priority, it took him less than one month to get his transplant.

“I’m really a miracle, walking breathing testimony and I’m just so grateful to be out and so thankful to have a second chance at life,” Irvin said.

He’s just 26 years old. He played football for UNC Charlotte, coaches at Butler High, and is a personal trainer. Health and wellness is his lifestyle but on March 29, everything changed when he found out his heart was failing.

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“It was definitely unreal. I’m healthy, I’m a trainer, I was just in awe like how is this happening, why is this happening,” he said.

Doctors couldn’t give him a clear answer on why it was happening. They’ve done testing to see if it’s a genetic condition. Irvin needed seven surgeries while he waited on the transplant list, supported by his family and 5-year-old daughter maya.

“Anytime I felt pain, anytime I felt discouraged, I would say to myself I’m doing it for my daughter, God has me,” he remembered. “I was singing gospel songs and I would just think of my daughter.”

Six days after his transplant, he walked out of the hospital on his own, determined to take full advantage of his second chance at life. His doctors and nurses have told him it’s a miracle.

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