6 September 2015
Harefield Hospital hosted what is believed to be the largest gathering of heart transplant recipients in Europe today (Sept 6).
The hospital in north-west London, which is one of the world’s leading transplant centres, held the event to mark the beginning of National Transplant Week tomorrow (Monday) and celebrate its centenary year.
One hundred and eighty five people who have received heart transplants or combined heart and lung transplants gathered in Harefield’s grounds to mark the event.
They ranged from some of the world’s first transplant patients who had been treated at Harefield Hospital by world-renowned heart surgeon Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub in the Eighties, to patients who received their life-saving organs only this year.
One of the participants was Jayne Davis, 70, who received her new heart at Harefield Hospital 20 years ago today. The former nurse, from the Isle of Wight, needed a transplant after a number of heart attacks in her 30s and 40s caused lasting damage.
Jayne, who is married with two children and four grandchildren, said: “I haven’t had any trouble with my heart since the transplant. The last 20 years have been absolutely fabulous so taking part in the record attempt at Harefield today was a nice way to commemorate my transplant anniversary. I had two months to live when I was given the gift of life by a very generous person and I want to encourage other people to give this gift too.”
Stephen Syer, 73, had his heart transplant at Harefield Hospital in 1984, making him one of the hospital’s longest surviving heart transplant recipients. The former engineer from Gloucester underwent the operation under the care of Professor Sir Magdi. He was thought to have viral cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle) and was said to be just hours from death when a heart became available.
Stephen said: “I consider myself to be a guinea pig and I’m so glad I was. Thanks to the transplant I’ve done everything I wanted to in my life and have been around for the births of my six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. I wanted to show my gratitude by coming today and to highlight the great work that takes place at Harefield and the need for organ donation in the process.”
While the majority of the participants had their operations at Harefield, others took part in the event who had their transplants at other centres in the UK.
Tracey Baker, transplant manager at Harefield Hospital, said: “We were thrilled to have so many heart transplant recipients at the event and thank all the heart transplant recipients who came along from all over the country, as far away as Newcastle and Cornwall, for their support. It was a real team achievement and a wonderful way to celebrate 100 years of dedicated work at Harefield.
“Very importantly, it shows that people who have heart transplants go on to live long and healthy lives, and are keen to spread the word about organ donation. It’s great for the staff who care for patients at the sickest time of their lives but don’t often get the opportunity to see them at their very best, enjoying life.
“We hope that events like this will encourage members of the public to sign the organ donor register, giving the precious gift of life to those who so desperately need it.”
In 2014-15 the team at Harefield Hospital performed 25 heart transplants. Currently there are more than 60 patients waiting for a life-saving heart transplant at Harefield Hospital alone.
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