August 09, 2016 12:05 PM

Andrew Jones works out regularly to compete as a fitness model despite the fact that he has no pulse or functioning heart.

“It’s kind of a freak thing,” Jones, 26, explains on Tuesday’s episode Home & Family about how he ended up in his current condition. “My heart was attacked by an unknown virus. I didn’t start feeling symptoms until I started becoming more intense with my workouts.”

While out for a run, Jones became short of breath. A visit to a cardiologist was inconclusive, and it wasn’t until years later – during which Jones continued to work as a fitness model – that he started feeling sick again.

“I was having pneumonia-like symptoms, I was tired all the time, and I eventually I had to stop working out, and I had to stop working,” he says.

Jones was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at age 22. He found himself in and out of the hospital for months, until he eventually was kept in the ICU for four months awaiting a heart transplant match.

He still has not found his match, but in the meantime he wears an artificial heart attached to a backpack-like device, which he must charge every night. Despite his heart condition, Jones continues to stay active.

“It’s hard to pinpoint the moment that I decided I was going to live a no excuses lifestyle,” he says. “I feel like that was always a part of me. It was something you have to accept. It was either that or die.”

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“I had my fair share of bad news come my way, and you’ve really just got to take it head-on and give it all you’ve got,” he continues. “Even though I’m a heart transplant patient, you find ways to do the things that you want to do. You make the most of it.”

Jones doesn’t let having an artificial heart interfere with his day-to-day life.

“I feel normal, and in this case ‘normal’ is a very powerful word,” he says. “To be able to have a significant amount of normalcy restored to my life is the best gift ever.”

Home & Family airs weekdays at 10 a.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.

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