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TECOM Training & Education Command

United States Marine Corps

Drill Instructor receives heart transplant, returns to training 2 months later without missing a beat

By LCpl. Elisha T. Orr | | June 29, 2001

Less than a year ago, a simple task such as getting out of bed or sitting in a chair would have exhausted or even killed Sgt. John D. Floyd.

After two battles with pneumonia, Floyd's wife was concerned about the way his heart sounded. After numerous tests and X-rays, doctors discovered that he had an irregular heartbeat and his heart was doubled in size.

Soon after, the 26-year-old Youngstown, Ohio. native and 2nd Recruit Training Battalion drill instructor was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy and ultimately, Congestive Heart Failure.

Congestive Heart Failure is a condition that causes the lungs fill with fluid and the heart has no room to function properly. Doctors also said that a virus attacking the heart caused it to swell, not allowing valves to open and close properly. So without blood pressure his body began to shut down.

"Many people think the brain controls everything," said Floyd.

"But it's the blood pressure of the heart that runs everything--it's like an engine."

Following a heart transplant in April, Floyd said that he felt good. " I wouldn't say I felt like a brand new man," said Floyd. "But it felt good to take a deep breath without it being a chore or without worrying about my lungs filling fluid."

Floyd said that he hasn't had this much energy in eight months. Before the surgery it took him all day to move from his bed or sit up in a chair. "If I would've put out any more energy I probably wouldn't have made it," said Floyd.
Only a couple of days after his surgery he was able to move from his bed to a chair.

Without any reluctance, Floyd returned to the drill field earlier this month. "I think I came back to late," he Floyd. "The love of the drill field is what drove me to come back." 

Floyd made it a mission for himself to become a drill instructor years ago, and in 1998, he did just that. "I've always heard the older Marines complain about the younger Marines, but you can't complain if you aren't training them," he said.

Even though he isn't at 100 percent yet, Floyd is pulling towards his goal. "Well what I do now is my 100 percent," said Floyd. "I'm not training fully with recruits yet but I'm getting there."

According to his peers, Floyd is an amazing individual and the personification of Semper Fi. After more than seven years in the Corps, he has overcome an obstacle that would have stunned a lot of other Marines.

"My everyday drive is God," said Floyd. "Without him I would not be here. There's also my family who supported me in my goal to come back," he said. "Then there are my friends that knew that this was the best thing for me and supported me in my decision."

Floyd also encourages other cardiac patients, "that there isn't anything they can't do if they want it and put their minds to it."