Colby Salerno has spent the last three months in a room at Hartford Hospital as he waits for a new heart.
Posters and goofy pictures adorn the walls of Salerno's room, which resembles a college dormitory. He studies often here, and he hopes to attend medical school someday. But now, all he can do is wait.
No one knows when his new heart will be available, but one thing is certain: his name is the first on Hartford Hospital's heart transplant list.
Salerno, 24, was diagnosed 12 years ago with hypertrophic cariomyopathy. This condition makes heart muscle thicken and forces the heart to work harder to pump blood, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. A transplant was deemed the best option for Salerno.
"With the way my heart was, that was the only option that would save me at the time," Salerno said.
Salerno, who is from Cheshire, writes about his experience on his blog, "Tales From The 10th Floor." He uses humor to describes life in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit, including the food (cooked a day in advance), the nurses (about half are male), and celebrating his 24th birthday in the hospital.
Family, friends, and doctors are raising awareness about his condition. Nearly 5,600 people have liked the "Have A Heart For Colby" page on Facebook, which lists a P.O. Box for donations to the Colby Heart Transplant Fund.
Recently, Salerno received a visit from NBC News Anchor Veronica de la Cruz, who helped raise $5,000 dollars for his medical expenses last week. Cruz founded The Hope For Hearts Foundation after her brother died in 2009 while waiting for a heart transplant.
The thought of going through the transplant process is scary, Salerno said, but he realizes it is his only option.
"You learn to accept it, and you move on," he said. "You get ready for that next chapter of your life."
Donations for Salerno's transplant may be sent to The Colby Heart Transplant Fund, P.O. Box 225, Cheshire, CT 06410-0225. Cards may be sent to Hartford Hospital 80 Seymour St., Bliss 10-I, Room 6, Hartford, CT 06102.