Titleist Brand Ambassador Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient currently in his rookie season on the PGA Tour, has partnered with Donate Life America (DLA) on a new educational campaign, “Play Through with Erik Compton,” to raise public awareness of organ donation and urge Americans to consider becoming organ donors.
Erik, 32, announced the news this week at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
“I've always been an open book sharing my story, and the impact of what has happened to me off of the golf course, which is always going to be a bigger story than me playing golf and hitting golf shots,” Erik said.
"Nowadays there are so many people that are waiting for transplants. On the list there's over 100,000 people waiting for any kind of transplant, and every 10 minutes somebody is added to that list. ...," he said. "For every great story of somebody succeeding and going through a transplant there is also a story of somebody who doesn't get a heart or lung or kidney in time. That's why it's hard, because you realize how lucky it is to be given a second chance."
At the age of nine, Erik was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, an enlarging of the heart that hinders its ability to pump blood. Three years later, in 1992, he received his first heart transplant. Several years after that, Compton was the no. 1-ranked junior golfer in the country. He attended the University of Georgia where he was an All-American and a member of the 2001 Walker Cup team.
In 2007, while playing a Nationwide Tour event, Erik suffered a major heart attack on the golf course. In mid-2008, he underwent a 14-hour surgery to implant a second new heart. Doctors doubted whether he would be able to play golf again.
Just five and a half months after his surgery, Erik participated in the Disney Children’s Miracle Network Classic and made the cut. In 2011, he won the Nationwide Tour’s Mexican Open and recorded two other top-5 finishes to earn his first promotion to the PGA Tour.
“I hope that by sharing my experience with others, Americans can see for themselves how important it is to learn the facts about organ donation and consider taking the next step of registering to become an organ donor,” he said.
The “Play Through” campaign, supported by the biotechnology company Genentech, will travel to five cities across the United States in 2012, highlighting the importance of organ donation and educating the public on how to register to become a donor.
“Last year, Donate Life America achieved a significant milestone when the 100 millionth American registered to become an organ donor,” said David Fleming, president and CEO of Donate Life America. “One of our goals in 2012 is to build on that success and register an additional 20 million donors. In his rookie year on the PGA Tour, Erik’s incredible story will reach golf fans, sports enthusiasts and beyond, and we hope inspire them to sign up today to save lives.”
For more information on organ donation, transplantation and to learn how to become an organ donor, please visit Donate Life America’s website at www.donatelife.net.
To learn more about Erik's journey, visit the Titleist "Inspiration" page by clicking here. We have also posted below links to some of Erik's recent media coverage – including his appearance with inspirational 12-year-old Anna King on Fox News.