New York City manager of popular eatery Bistro Cassis receives new heart in time for Christmas

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- It's a Christmas gift like no other for one New York City man whose life was changed after receiving a new heart.

Known to many as the "mayor of the Upper West Side," 62-year-old Manny Colon is stronger than ever running his popular eatery the Bistro Cassis.

"I always had a big heart, literally my enlarged heart," Colon said. "Now it's a regular size, but it's still big and warm."

For nearly two decades, he had struggled with a genetic heart condition that limited his activities.

"He was very sick," Mount Sinai Hospital cardiologist Dr. Sean Pinney said. "He had been suffering with heart failure for many, many years and his heart was stopping. He was shocked with his defibrillator to bring him back to life. They say it's like getting kicked by a mule. You really feel it. Your whole body jumps, and it's pretty frightening."

Ten months ago, he underwent a heart transplant at Mount Sinai Hospital.

"We removed his native heart and supported him with a machine," Dr. Pinney said. "Kept him alive for a few weeks until a heart transplant could be performed."

After six weeks, they found a donor, and after three-and-a-half months in the hospital and months more in recovery, Colon is back at work doing what he loves with a grateful heart and a new lease on life.

He is driving, planning, traveling and chasing around his grandkids, and even going to the gym three times a week.

"I really do believe in miracles," Colon said. "I've seen so much good happen. I've seen a lot of bad, but I've seen more good."

He's now thinking about a trip to Miami, but he has no plans of going anywhere, anytime soon.

"I have a lot of work that needs to be done, a lot of giving back," Colon said. "Maybe a 100th birthday party right? That would be great."

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