Paul Swanson was always on the move. While at the Naval Academy, he played football, ran track and threw both discus and hammer. "Even at sea," he says, "I was physically active on the flight deck." He kept up a grueling pace for 13 years in the military and 13 years as a civilian with the Department of Defense.
And then Paul inexplicably slowed down. "He just sat on the couch, reading," recalls his wife, Marina. The next 11 years were a battle for his life. After he was diagnosed with a faulty tricuspid valve, Paul had three open-heart surgeries. The replacement valves kept him alive, but then his heart began to give out. "I was on my last legs," he says simply. He needed a new heart. The wait for a donor was excruciating, but six days later, he underwent a nine-hour transplant surgery at age 66.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the care I got," he enthuses. In November 2012, he and his family celebrated the first anniversary of his new lease on life.
Paul, now retired, is convinced that his life was extended for a reason. He has every intention of living it to the fullest. He's slowly but surely building up his strength - swimming farther, walking faster and getting back to some of his beloved activities. He's savoring every moment with his wife, their two grown children and their three grand children.