Jessica Melore

Adversity: Suffered a heart attack, organ failure, amputation, and cancer

Advocacy: Became a public health advocate & international motivational speaker on overcoming adversity

“I try to live my life to the fullest, to be an example that people can look to. I can show them not only how to live a normal life, but an extraordinary life.”

At 16, Jessica Melore suffered a sudden massive heart attack while at a restaurant with her family. Then co-captain of her high school tennis team, she went from an uneventful medical history to not being expected to live through the night. For nine months she lived on an experimental battery-operated heart pump that kept her alive as she awaited a heart transplant. An infection led to the amputation of her left leg. Years later she survived two bouts of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. “Ultimately, the fact that I was alive against all odds was my biggest motivator,” she says. “I just realized how lucky I was to have made it through so much. Getting angry or frustrated about what happened wasn’t in me anymore. So why not make the best of what my future could be?” During Jessica’s journey, meeting others who had successfully overcome adversity was a major source of inspiration, especially while at her sickest. She made it her mission in life to inspire others by sharing her story as an international motivational speaker and become a public health advocate for the causes that helped save her life. “We all have this inner strength, and it is not until you are put to the test that you realize what you are capable of. And even though people might not have gone through my experience, people can relate to my story on many levels and draw inspiration for their own lives.”

Jessica received her heart transplant just in time to attend Princeton University, and was named one of Glamour magazine’s Top 10 College Women of 2002 for her advocacy work on behalf of organ donation, heart disease, disability and cancer awareness. She is an original founding member/board member of Harboring Hearts, a non-profit that provides assistance to heart patients and their families during a time of need. As a board member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, she shares her story to raise funds for life-saving research, speaks at conferences for patients and medical professionals, and has lobbied in Washington DC for improved access to medication. Having witnessed firsthand many fellow patients and friends who died while waiting for a transplant, she is very active in the organ and tissue donation community through Donate Life America and as a member the National Kidney Foundation’s transAction executive committee. She has also served as a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, highlighting the importance of women’s heart health. Jessica has written about her advocacy in several publications and hopes to continue utilizing this medium to expand her reach to others.

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