When James Sheppard started having heart palpitations five years ago he ignored it, like many 20-something males do.
However, the palpitations kept getting worse and soon he could hardly walk 100 metres without losing his breath. This was enough to hospitalise him and months of tests resulted in a diagnosis of Cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy affects the walls of the heart, preventing it from pumping blood around the body and eventually leading to heart failure.
James's condition continued to worsen and after flatlining twice in hospital, he was put on the waiting list to receive a heart transplant.
He spent eight months on the list and on 12 May this year James received a new heart.
Road to recovery
James quickly began rehab and was riding an exercise bike only 11 days after the operation, and out of hospital only two days after that.
He had to take on a three month intensive rehab program and the team at the Alfred Hospital recommended he choose an enjoyable activity to do to rebuild his fitness.
When he was younger James loved riding a bike, but stopped as he got older and unwell. However, he soon realised that riding was going to be the ticket to take him back to health.
He got back on the bike and set a goal – the 20 kilometre United Energy Around the Bay ride.
United Energy Around the Bay is this Sunday 7 October, less than five months after James's heart transplant on 12 May.
He thinks it's an achievable challenge, and is currently riding about 40 kilometres a week with friends.
The 20km ride is not his only goal. James also aims to complete a triathlon this summer and next August represent Australia at the World Transplant Games in Newcastle in the UK in the road cycling race.
An inspiration to others
James also hopes that his efforts can inspire others to live a healthy life and promote organ donation.
If you'd like to join James at United Energy Around the Bay it's not too late – entries are still open and with free tickets for children it's easy for the whole family to come along.