Montgomery County Cancer Survivor Celebrates Spot In Major Endurance Event

CBS Philly, Jim Melwert December 2014


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Montgomery County man who became the first cancer survivor and heart transplant recipient to ever finish a full-Ironman distance race now has a ticket to take part in one of the most prestigious athletic events on the planet.


Four years ago, Derek Fitzgerald spent the holidays in the hospital in need of a life-saving transplant after the chemotherapy that saved him from non-Hodgkins lymphoma destroyed his heart...

Heart transplant recipient races on

Lansdale Reporter, ERIN WEAVER December 2013


When Derek Fitzgerald woke up from his heart transplant surgery, he felt great — thanks to the painkillers. Something was amiss, though.


“I heard this thumping that I couldn’t place,” he said. “Then I realized it was my heartbeat. I’d forgotten what it was like to have a heartbeat.”


That’s because for seven years, from 2004 to 2011, Fitzgerald, of Harleysville, was living with heart failure.


To understand how Fitzgerald got to this point — lying in a recovery room in the hospital...

Battling back - area man is going the distance

The Philadelphia Inquirer, MICHAEL VITEZ December 2013


Derek Fitzgerald played baritone horn in the marching band at North Penn High School, and his father ran the music program at Bensalem High.


Visiting his father one day, Derek "saw the girls in color guard in spandex." LeeAnn in particular looked very cute.

Derek visited a lot more often, soon dating LeeAnn. They attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania, got married.

But then, Derek, at age 30, got cancer in 2003.


He survived, but chemotherapy ruined his heart. In 2011, too weak to lift his head off a pillow, he got a heart transplant...

Tin Man Soars to Second Chances in Lake Placid, Arizona, LISA DOLBEAR August 2013


Nobody knows just how much heart it takes to complete an IRONMAN better than Derek Fitzgerald. At 40 years old, Fitzgerald became the first American heart transplant recipient to complete a 140.6-mile race at IRONMAN Lake Placid last month (16:14:38 hours).


Long before the Harleysville, PA resident began fighting for the IRONMAN finish line, he was fighting for his health. Fitzgerald spent a decade battling cancer, survived heart failure and received a heart transplant after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of 30 (2003)...

How active can you be after a heart transplant?

Tampa Bay Times, Terry Tomalin August 2013


First, Derek Fitzgerald beat cancer. Then, he bounced back after a heart transplant. But this weekend he will attempt what he once thought impossible — finish an Olympic-distance triathlon.


"When I first got out of the hospital my wife asked me if I was going to be one of those crazy guys, who once they get a new heart, tries to go out and run a marathon," said the 39-year-old Pennsylvania man. "But here I am, a little more than a year later, about to do the St. Anthony's Triathlon."


In 2003, Fitzgerald was your typical, high-energy, independent business owner. "I have my own health care technology company," he said. "All I did was work, work, work …"...

Patient, Hatfield Township cardiologist bond by running 5K

Lansdale Reporter, BRIAN BINGAMAN April 2012


Thanks to one of his patients, Dr. Cliff Ehrlich of the Lansdale branch of Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia is feeling better than ever.


The 56-year-old Ehrlich considers himself in good physical shape, but not an athlete. But then one of his patients, Lower Salford resident Derek Fitzgerald, talked him into getting involved in one of his least favorite physical activities.

“I never liked to run. That one-mile run (in school gym class) just killed me,” Ehrlich said, adding...

After cancer, transplant, and rehab, it's off to the races

The Philadelphia Inquirer, DAN HARDY November 2011


Eleven months ago, fresh from a heart transplant, Derek Fitzgerald of Harleysville could barely walk.


On Sunday, new ticker working perfectly, he completed 13.1 miles, one of the 25,000 people who took part in the annual Philadelphia Marathon weekend, which also includes a half-marathon and an 8K race.


Fitzgerald, 38, was diagnosed eight years ago with cancer: non-Hodgkin's disease. Chemotherapy worked - but it damaged his heart...

Harleysville heart transplant survivor tackles Philadelphia marathon

Souderton Independent, ERIN DUBOIS November 2011


"Heck no" was Derek Fitzgerald's answer when his wife, LeeAnn, asked him if he was going to become one of "those guys" -- a marathon runner.


Eleven months after receiving a heart transplant, Derek was among the host of runners breezing through the streets of Philadelphia during the annual marathon. He was running a half-marathon.


Derek, a Harleysville resident, said he started "feeling crummy" in 2003 when ...