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Heart and Sole: The Dylan Kalambay story

Dylan Kalambay, a promising Canadian basketball prospect, is back on the court after receiving a life-saving heart transplant.

In November 2020, Toronto high school basketball star Dylan Kalambay’s world turned upside down. He experienced heart failure at the young age of 16. Over the next six months he had open-heart surgery and not long after, thanks to the generosity of an organ donor and their family, Dylan received a life-saving heart transplant.

In September 2021, after a long and challenging recovery, Dylan stepped back onto the court in his last year of high school at Ridley College to pursue his dream of obtaining an NCAA Division 1 basketball scholarship and becoming the first player ever to do so with a donated heart. 

As Dylan pursues his dreams on the court, off of it, he continues to try and comprehend his second chance at life, his new identity as a basketball player and transplant recipient, and a desire to connect with his donor family and to learn more about the person that lost their life in order for him to continue his.

“I thought it would be inspiring to share my journey with those who might be going through challenges or going through the same thing as me,” says the 6’9 Toronto-born basketball star of Congolese descent, who’s played for Canada Basketball’s U16 national team and for highly ranked AAU basketball club Canada Elite.

“I think this film might connect with people coming from all different walks of life, demographics and cultures, who might not know about the heart transplant process.”

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Ridley College’s Assistant Head of School Jay Tredway adds that “watching an elite student athlete like Dylan endure this unimaginable illness and surgery and then demonstrate the determination and pure will he has shown to get back to competition has been truly inspiring.” 

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“Dylan’s experience is real life. I would hope that seeing his story and learning about the good that can come from being a donor will stir more people to register and save lives.” 

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