NEW YORK (WABC) -- A shift in the medical field is helping save the lives of transplant recipients, including a man who needed a new heart.
Anthony Cosentino is doling out hugs for a doctor who saved his life a year ago.
"The pain just didn't stop, it got worse," Cosentino said.
That pain was a massive heart attack.
"In the past, heart attacks like this were a death sentence," Dr. Frank Tamburrino.
The cardiologist from Staten Island University Hospital got to work and inserted an impella device to get Cosentino's blood flowing.
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"One or two times during insertion until we this in to stabilize him ... he codes and we have to resuscitate him and shock him to bring him back," Tamburrino said.
But Cosentino's heart was so badly damaged, he needed a heart transplant.
The wait could be long, but he was offered a heart with Hepatitis C, a virus which can be contracted through needle sharing and IV drug use. A heart, that until recently, would have been considered too risky to use.
"Now that we have since 2014, medications that lead to a 95-100% cure rate for Hepatitis C it allowed us to use these organs and it has really changed the transplant world," said Dr. Samit Shah, a heart transplant surgeon at Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital.
Cosentino received the heart and the medications worked. He's free of Hepatitis C.
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"I don't know who the person was, but it was somebody, and their suffering basically gave me life," Cosentino.
A life that's starting to look more and more like the one he had.
"I lived an active life, I play ball, I ski in the wintertime, I golf -- those are all the things driving me because I want to be back to all of that," Cosentino said.
He's a 51-year-old father of three, who knows someone else's tragedy allowed for his life saving transplant.
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