Monk star Jason Gray-Stanford, 51, reflects on his lifesaving heart transplant in 2020

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Monk star Jason Gray-Stanford, 51, reflects on his lifesaving heart transplant in 2020: ‘This gift I’ve been given has relit a light that was almost out’


Jason Gray-Stanford is opening about the heart transplant that saved his life 15 months ago.

The actor, who’s best known for playing the role of Lieutenant Randy Disher in the comedy-drama series Monk, shared his story of survival with PEOPLE in the hopes that it will encourage more people to become organ donors.

The first signs that something was medically wrong with Gray-Stanford began when he started feeling run down in 2017, which led to him being diagnosed with heart failure the following year, and ultimately being told in 2020 that he needed a heart transplant or he would face sure death.

Gift of life: Jason Gray-Stanford is opening about the heart transplant that saved his life 15 months ago

Gift of life: Jason Gray-Stanford is opening about the heart transplant that saved his life 15 months ago

Diagnosed with heart failure in early 2018, Gray-Stanford did what he could to maintain a healthy lifestyle, by improving his diet and proper exercise, until he blacked out during a spin class in December 2019. 

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. When this happens, blood often backs up and fluid can build up in the lungs, causing shortness of breath, according to the Mayo Clinic.  

Then 10 months later, doctors informed him his heart and kidneys were in complete failure and that he need an heart transplant or he would be die within a few months.

‘They said, “You got two choices, we can start the heart transplant process and hopefully get you a new heart or you’re dead, you’re looking at another few months,”‘ he said, adding, ‘It was surreal, it hit me so hard.’

Life-changing: Diagnosed with heart failure in early 2018, Gray-Stanford ultimately was told he needed a heart transplant or he would die within a few months

Life-changing: Diagnosed with heart failure in early 2018, Gray-Stanford ultimately was told he needed a heart transplant or he would die within a few months

But remarkably his miracle came on that very same day his mortality was being questioned: a matching heart donor had become available.          

Astonishingly, he was informed by a doctor that the heart was ‘an incredible match,’ which is highly uncommon. It turns out some patients can wait up to two or three years to get a heart transplant.  

‘I am so fortunate and so grateful that I was able to receive this transplant,’ Gray-Stanford shared. Inspired by his good fortune the actor added, ‘If there’s a modicum of inspiration someone can take from what I’ve gone through, then it’s my job to get out there, and say something. It’s as close to a miracle as you get.’

MIracle: Amazingly, on the very same day Gray-Stanford's mortality was being questioned, a matching heart donor had miraculously become available; he received the transplant on November 12, 2020, and has since made a complete recovery

MIracle: Amazingly, on the very same day Gray-Stanford’s mortality was being questioned, a matching heart donor had miraculously become available; he received the transplant on November 12, 2020, and has since made a complete recovery

Gray-Stanford would undergo his transplant on November 12, 2020, and he has since gone on to make a full recovery.   

‘This gift I’ve been given has relit a light that was almost out,’ he confessed, adding that ‘every day that I get is so important to me now.’

As part of his effort to help promote organ donors, Gray-Stanford has teamed up with the American Heart Association.  

‘I don’t know how many I got left,’ he honestly shared. ‘But I’m certainly going to attack each one with as much spirit as I possibly can.’ 

His motivation: The actor, who's best known for playing the role of Lieutenant Randy Disher in the comedy-drama series Monk, is sharing his story of survival in hopes that it will encourage more people to be come organ donors

His motivation: The actor, who’s best known for playing the role of Lieutenant Randy Disher in the comedy-drama series Monk, is sharing his story of survival in hopes that it will encourage more people to be come organ donors

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