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Hometown Hero defines "Heart"

GEORGETOWN -- Resilience is the word many would use to describe one area veteran.
GEORGETOWN -- Resilience is the word many would use to describe one area veteran. He's had a host of health problems, but is now sharing his story to motivate others. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield introduces our Hometown Hero.

Jacob Land is all about the positive. At 29-years old, he's already had two heart transplants. But, he's also proving how big that heart is even though his real one nearly killed him.

Jacob was the picture of health his whole life. The sports fanatic joined the military and aspired to be a firefighter. But, that all changed in a heartbeat.

"I just felt like I was invincible. Denial was definitely my first emotion. It just felt like a bad dream for the longest time."

At 25-years old, Land was living his dream as an Air Force firefighter. But, he contracted a very, real virus while deployed in Saudi Arabia. Coxsackievirus heavily damaged the cells and tissues in his heart.

"They think I caught potentially, I touched something. A lot of it just started out like a common cold."

After coming home, he had one transplant, but his body rejected it after two years.

"I woke up one night and I knew something wasn't right, so I drove myself from Champaign to Indianapolis to my hospital."

Land found out as he was driving, he was having a heart attack. He had been having them for a few days, and didn't even know it.

Plenty of familiar faces kept him company after his second transplant. But, his faith is what got him through nights in the hospital.

"I really felt sorry for myself for a long time, too. I was angry. I'd find myself waking up in the middle of the night. I was unable to sleep and I would just sit there and I would pray."

At Stone Creek Church in Urbana, he tested out his new path; motivational speaking.

"After having two heart transplants, I feel like, I don't want to sound cliche, but, I'm here for a reason."

But, if his heart's taught him anything in the past five years, it's how to love a little bit more.

"I live everyday like it could potentially be my last; embrace my friends, my family and anyone I care about."

Land has already gone back to his hospital to talk to patients going through similar ordeals. He says he may have a heart transplant, but continues to play sports.
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