NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Muran Vinszee takes nothing for granted.

After a lifetime of serious health struggles, the 31-year-old North Brunswick resident received a heart and liver transplant three years ago.

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Born with a rare heart deformity called Tetralogy of Fallot, commonly known as Blue Baby Syndrome, early surgeries gave Vinszee a normal life. He played basketball and soccer.

Then, in his twenties, his heart started to fail. He spent 11 months in the hospital.

“It was agonizing, scary, especially not knowing — and especially watching yourself deteriorate daily,” Vinszee said.

Then one day, a nurse handed him a note. Donor organs were ready.

“1000 things went across my mind,” he said. “Anxiousness, excitement, anxiety…everything.”

For three years, Vinszee thrived — not even a cold.

He was seemingly the perfect candidate to represent the United States and New Jersey in the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa.

But it was not to be. At the last minute, donations for the trip fell short.

Nevertheless, he’s keeping things in perspective. He says he’s just thankful to be alive.

“All of the accomplishments that I’ve taken on after these three years, I dedicate to my donor and their family because without them none of this would be possible and I don’t know if I’d still be here,” he said.

Vinszee now runs Hearts in Hand, a support network for transplant candidates and recipients. He shares his story with the hope of saving even more lives.

“If you’re comfortable, become a donor, because you will the reason why someone else is living,” he said.

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