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Cary teen who received heart transplant 'just keeps going'

Lucas Santos, a Cary teen who received a heart transplant last year, is running in a 5K fundraiser Saturday. He said his health struggles have taught him about faith, patience and endurance.

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CARY, N.C. — Seventeen-year-old Lucas Santos has been spending a considerable amount of time running around his Cary neighborhood lately.

“Whenever I feel tired, I stop, and my heart tells me just keep going,” he said. “It feels like it’s just saying just keep going.”

Running is something the Cary High School senior doesn’t take for granted. Born with a congenital heart defect known as Ebstein anomaly, he underwent a heart transplant in November after showing signs of heart failure.

Santos said he’s doing well with his new heart, and his body is showing no more signs of rejection. He has returned to Cary High School and is playing trombone again in the marching band.

He is also training for a race. The “Run Your Heart Out 5K” will be held at 8 a.m. Saturday in Cary. Sponsored by the nonprofit Children’s Organ Transplant Association, the race is a fundraiser to help defray medical costs for Santos’ transplant.

“It might be a chance for me to show how good I can be out there,” Santos said. “I feel as ready as I’ll ever be.”

The teen also said he’s learned certain lessons from his struggle with his health in the last year – lessons about faith, patience and endurance.

“God has taught me not to fear. Just don't fear, don’t worry,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Children’s Organ Transplant Association said the campaign has raised more than $57,000 toward the goal of $60,000 for Santos’ care. A few more fundraising events are planned before the Nov. 5 deadline, which marks a year from the date of his transplant.

Santos says he thinks he will “come out on top” in the race.

“As long as I finish, I’m a happy camper,” he said.


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