Episode 3: Krishna Patel

"There's no real hierarchy here. All the people help the hospital go round."

Krishna at Harefield Hospital

Like many patients at Harefield Hospital, transplant recipient Krishna Patel has become a well-known and popular face with staff and patients alike. 

Coinciding with Heart Month 2024, in the third episode of ‘More Than a Hospital’, podcast host and fellow transplant recipient Oli Lewington speaks with Krishna about his heart transplant journey, his time at Harefield, and how the hospital and its staff incite a sense of community that isn’t often found in clinical settings. 

Krishna’s experiences at Harefield have inspired him to give his time to supporting other people currently on the transplant waiting list. He has also raised almost £7,000 for our charities. Krishna now plans to set up his own charity to raise public awareness and education about the work that healthcare staff do on a daily basis.

Listen to more episodes

Our new podcast, More than a Hospital, delves into the untold and inspiring stories of the people at the heart of our hospitals. In each episode, host Oli Lewington interviews a guest with a particular connection to Royal Brompton and Harefield, as they share the story that forged it. 

You can find each episode here, and on AcastSpotify or Apple.

Oli Lewington

Welcome back to another episode of More Than a Hospital. Let's go back 16 and a bit years as of this recording to a time just after my double lung transplant at Harefield Hospital. I had loads of questions about what comes next. What was my life going to be like now? How different would things really be? Would I be able to do all of the things I dreamed of doing. That period immediately after a transplant is an exciting time, but it's also uncertain in a lot of ways, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks that either.

To find out whether or not that was true, I sat down with a man whose own life saving heart transplant had happened just a few months before.

JINGLE

Krishna Patel spent the end of 2022 and almost all of 2023 as an inpatient at Harefield Hospital. having led a normal life for almost 40 years, he found himself diagnosed with a serious heart condition in early 2022, before being listed for a transplant that summer. It was a life changing moment for Krishna, who had to put his newly established business ventures on hold, and also for his new wife, who had to move closer to the hospital, extending her commute by hours.

 Krishna is now a well-known face around Harefield, a result of his relentless enthusiasm for connecting with people. It's hard to walk a hallway with him without being stopped by someone he befriended during his stay. He's also deeply dedicated to pushing for change where it's needed most, volunteering to support everything from information days to taste testing new menu options for patient meals.

 In this episode, I spoke to Krishna about the difficulties of spending more than a year in hospital, the impact that staff can have on mental as well as physical health, and how hard it is to maintain a sponsored silence on a busy ward. 

Krishna, you probably know more about Harefield than almost any other patient. Don't you?

Krishna Patel

Yeah, I think so. I was here for a year, so I got admitted October 29th 202, a day I'll never forget. I spent just over a year in the hospital and everything literally changed for me that day. It's really funny because most of the people I met on my ward, they were getting wheeled in on a bed or a chair.

I walked in carrying two bags. And Dr. Drew, great doctor, who's a fellow who's been at the hospital for 15 years old, me, and said, who are you coming to see? And I said, Oh, nobody. I'm a patient. He smiled at me and he goes, oh your room is here. So, I wasn’t ill as most people. And then straight away I was like, you know what, my situation isn't so bad, especially when I got to meet more and more people and realise what they actually do at the hospital, because I didn't know what nurses do day to day. I know a nurse takes care of a patient, but how involved they are or how involved a doctor is, which is really funny because my wife is actually a doctor herself. So, most of our friends are in the health care space and my brother's a pharmacist. So we know a lot of people in the medical field, but when you see hands on, it was just different for me. It just changed a lot. A hell of a lot.

Oli Lewington

So, did you know you were getting admitted?

Krishna Patel

Yeah. So, it was January 3rd 2022, I had a cardiac arrest at home. So, it was my left side. didn't know what was going on. Basically, I just started sweating. And then I had a little bit heartburn and I thought, I'll get some Rennies, you know, the red tablets. So, I'm going downstairs. Couldn't make it downstairs, went to the bathroom, vomited, and apparently that's a sign, cleaned it up, sat down, and I was still sweaty. And for some reason, I called 111. I don't know why, I just did it. And there's a young lady on the phone. She asked me all these questions and she goes, where are you now? And I said, I'm upstairs. She goes, okay, get your coat, get your phone charger, go downstairs. I said, why? And she goes, because I think you're having a cardiac arrest. And then I stood up, I panicked and I was like, woah woah wait, there's nothing wrong with me. So I went downstairs. 5 minutes later, an ambulance was at my house, which is really quick because then we were living in central London, Elephant and Castle. So I wasn't far from the hospital, which is Guy's and St Thomas's, which is associated with this trust.

 They got me to the hospital and within 5 minutes they were like, yeah, we need to put two stents in you. So, I didn't know what stents or anything was. This is in my head. So I was like, I'm going to be home today. So they kept asking me, do you have a wife or girlfriend?

I wasn't married then and I said, I have a girlfriend. And they go, oh we're going to call her. I said, no, no, no, we're going to leave it. She's got exams. And they said, What did she do? I said, Oh, she's a doctor. And the nurse said to me, I'm definitely calling her. And I said, no, no, no, leave it. I'll be fine.

They put me under, they put the two stents in, but then we had the stuff beforehand. Nobody could put a line in me because apparently I'm very hard to bleed. So I had a nurse, a junior nurse, a sister. Then they called the doctor and then a consultant. So eventually they got the line in me.

They put the stents in me, they woke me up and it was the same nurse that was looking after me. She just grabbed my thumb, unlocked my phone and said, what's your girlfriend's name? Call her. And then I realised when my girlfriend turned up how serious it was. The next day there was a consultant and he was probably about my age, really smart guy.

He came and spoke to me. He said, has anybody spoke to you? I said, no. And he goes, do you know what's happened? I said, well, all I know is I had a cardiac arrest, but I think I'm fine now. He shut the curtain. He goes, you're not fine. He goes, if you had a left in a day, he goes, what were you going to do?

And I said, I was going to stay at home. I was going to rest. And then I would’ve left it a day. He goes, you wouldn't have been able to make that call because you would have been dead. And that's when it hit me. So, I stayed in the hospital for about two weeks. I went home. So, we only lived public transport about 10 minutes away from the hospital.

It's not. Not so far. I got home. I was fine. I went to see my parents and I had fluid build-up around my gut. So, most people get it around their ankles or their chest. For me, it was my stomach. I just look like I was having a baby or something. I went to Guy’s and St Thomas’. They got rid of the fluid and they put an ICD in me, and then I went home.

My consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’ was a guy called Andy D’Silva. Great guy. We're exactly the same age. He asked for my case. He asked for my case because we were the same age, like very similar lifestyles. And he couldn't understand how this had happened to me, because we have no family history of like cardiac arrest or anything.

 And he used to work here at Harefield, so he referred me to Harefield and he actually helped me a lot. The way he described things and explained things. Like, I don't know anything about medicine, but he simplified everything for me so I could understand it. And then, yeah, I got referred in July. I met Dr Dhar, great guy, senior consultant.

He's amazing. I don't know if you got to meet him, but he's a great, great guy. They did these tests for me and then he sat me down and he's like, okay, I've got news. He goes, you've got three options. I said, okay, one of the three options, he goes, you can stay on the tablets, but we don't know how long you’re going to live. He goes, I think about 12 to 18 months, but he goes, realistically it’s probably 12. He goes, you can have an LVAD, but that's just a short-term fix, or you can have a transplant. And he goes, if you don't do any of these, he goes, you will die. And that hit me. But the way I take on information like that is I won't panic, I won't cry, because to me, like that doesn't resolve anything.

So, I took it in and I was like, I'll have the transplant. And then I forgot my girlfriend was in the car waiting. So, when I told her it was a completely different story. And obviously she's a doctor, right? So, she knows the ins and outs of it all. And yeah, she didn't take it out well. And there's a couple of my friends that I know very, very well that are doctors that cried in front of me.

And I never, ever like, unless it's their wedding day or the birth of their children, I have never seen them cry. Yeah. And then I got referred and then yeah, October was when they called me in and that was when my journey began

Oli Lewington

So why did you have to be admitted while you were waiting for a transplant?

Krishna Patel

So, one because they said they needed to monitor me all the time. And two, I was on meds for like 24 hours a day, so I had this bag which I'd carry around, apparently I was the first person to do that instead of pushing a pole round. So, I used to put the meds in my bag that was connected to me, that was feeding through my arm.

 But yeah, I did that, and in case a heart came up as well, and I lived too far away to just drive it and drive out. Plus, they said as well that I needed to be monitored all the time. So, I couldn't go home. And that's like all of us. I'd preferred to be home and maybe things would have been better.

But it's probably better to be here because in total I had like three shouts.

Oli Lewington

When you talk about getting a shout, what is that?

Krishna Patel

So, you wake up one day like a normal day, you start your exercise and then a transplant coordinator will come in and say, oh, are you busy? And I was like, No, I'm not. And then they'll say, okay, we've got a heart for you, a potential heart, sorry. So, they're very careful with their words. So, they'll tell you that they've got a heart from wherever part of the country and that the consultants got to see the heart. They've done the checks, and they'll bring it to the hospital. They'll do further checks. Then they’ll prepare you. Preparing you means like cleaning yourself, shaving yourself, getting yourself into a gown. If the heart's good to go and you're good to go, then you go down for surgery. Or in my case, twice on two consecutive days, it was a no.

Oli Lewington

Two consecutive days?

Krishna Patel

Yeah. So the first day was our anniversary.

Oli Lewington

Wow.

Krishna Patel

And we’re like, oh, it's destiny. It's meant to happen. And it didn't. And then the second day, it happened the day after, and we’re like okay it's going to happen, and it didn't happen again. So the first time they said there was some damage to the heart. And I waited 9 hours. So, no eating, no nothing from the day before as well. But do you know what? I kind of expected it. So like me, my expectations weren't so high. As with my wife, I think she just wanted me home. So, it was a bit disappointing. Then the second time it happened, I was like, you know what it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. And then within like 3 hours they are like, it's a no. They go the heart is ruined. Like you cannot have it. And then it was months and months go by. And then September 23rd it happened. And I remember my coordinator coming to the room and telling me and I didn't think much of it. So, I went about my day, drank a bit of water and then she kept coming and saying, okay, it's looking good, it's looking good, it's looking good.

And it got to about 6 p.m. and she goes, you know what? You need to have a shower and shave yourself. And I did that. 20 minutes later, they've got me on the bed and they're taking me downstairs. So, I'm saying bye to everybody. And then we get down to the surgery ward. And I couldn't look at my wife because I knew if I looked - because she had tears coming down her face. And I'm not that emotional but if I see somebody crying, I don't want to see somebody crying. It set me off. So I was just looking forward, looking forward, said bye and I remember. Is it the anaesthetist that puts you to sleep?

Oli Lewington

Yeah, yeah. That's right.

Krishna Patel

They were talking to me and I think they put the injection. I was gone. Gone. 8 hours later or 9 hours later. I was awake. They took the tube out my mouth and I met the surgeon and he just he's a really great guy. You know, you meet people that just got electric energy and it just transfers over to you. He just said, hello! He goes, you know what happened? I said, no idea. He goes, oh, we gave you a new heart. Do you want to see the scars? I was like no. And then he's looking. He's gone okay, good job. Good job. Because I'm going to come and see you tomorrow. And I remember my parents being in the room. So I asked my parents, I go, what did they say?

 They said, well, you're awake and you're asleep, and you saying you're grateful for being alive. And my sister-in-law was pregnant at the time, so they just had their baby in November and whenever she'd come to the hospital, she would let me touch her stomach. And all I remember, I don't remember much, but I remember this. I put my hand on the stomach and the baby started kicking, which is good. Apparently I was talking sense, I don't remember much. It's only the next day I woke up and I was like, you know what? I'm really hungry. I'm really, really hungry. And I'm really thirsty. And they’re like, what do you want? I said, I want orange juice. So, I got this orange juice, you know those little cartons they give you in the hospital? So I peeled it back, I drunk it and I necked it really quickly. And I was like, ah those are really good. 10 seconds later, it came back up and they said, that's going to happen because obviously your body's getting used to you having fluids and things again. Few minutes later, the physio comes and says, how you feeling? I said, fine, and I really felt fine. And they said, okay, we're going to walk. I said, okay. And I just thought, this is normal. This is what they do with everybody. So, they got me up, walked around ITU, got back to my bed, sat down. I was knackered. I was really tired and they said, that's normal, that's going to happen. And I just thought, this is normal. And they kept doing it and doing it and doing it until eventually they took me back to my ward.

I think the whole thing, the hardest thing of the whole surgery wasn't the surgery or even like the walking or the exercise, it was being in ICU because it's a big, big open ward, right?

Oli Lewington

It's a scary place ITU, isn't it?

Krishna Patel

And I have massive respect for the doctors and nurses that work there. Like you have one patient, one nurse, one patient, one nurse. And all I remember, on the left side of me, there was an Irish guy, older guy, probably in his fifties was in pain, a lot of pain, just kept saying it hurts, it hurts, it hurts. And I remember saying to the nurse, I said, give him painkillers. Give him my painkillers. It was too much. And then I remember opposite me, there was a young lady, she was only about 15 or 16 that passed away. And you hear all of this because you can hear the family screaming and all this. I didn't like it. And then the sisters from Rowan, because I know everybody in Rowan and Fir Tree, because they were my wards, they came to see me.

They said, How do you feel? And I feel good. They said, Should we take you back home? Because that's what they call the afterwards. Home, right? They took me back to the ward and I was just so grateful and I was just. Yeah, I think that ITU, it was hard, it was very difficult because I've got friends that were there for like a month and I don't know how they did it.

I know they're in a coma and stuff, but still you can hear everything coming through. But it was hard. But my nurses that looked after me, like they do everything for you, like they're bathing you, they're cleaning you up after you go to the bathroom. They’re doing all your meds and everything else and they did the same on Rowan and Fir Tree as well.

But here it's just constant, constant, constant.

Oli Lewington

ITU is a really overwhelming place because there's just so much going on all the time and it's such a contrast to the wards and particularly, I think, Rowan and Fir Tree, because you have your own room, it's a very private kind of space and you frequently go hours and hours without seeing people. And so, you kind of got your own little bubble that you can exist in, in whatever way you want to.

But ITU, you have no respite from it. It's kind of constant. And I was really lucky because the first time, so when I had my transplant, I woke up back on or I first remember back on Rowan Ward, and I had no idea that I'd even been in ITU. And then a couple of weeks later I ended up back on to ITU and spent a couple of days there because I had gone into renal failure, which was completely, completely unexpected, obviously. But all kinds of random things were going on. I was back on ITU, I woke up with the breathing tube still in, which was really scary. And then you're just kind of in this space that is suddenly so busy, so noisy. And I had the exact same experience as you that the person across from me died, and it was sort of the middle of the night. And I. I didn't really sleep on the ward anyway. But there was like a constant stream of family members coming, some kind of very stoic, some in tears. And you just kind of, I was hazing in and out because of the amount of painkillers I was on. But it's just such a strange and overwhelming place.

Krishna Patel

I think you're right. I think when you say you had a private space on Rowan and Fir Tree. Yeah, it was private, but I was very social on the ward. So I did art, I discovered my love of art, which I never had before. I was never that creative, but I discovered I was. I raised money for the hospital. I got involved as much as I could, going round speaking to people. They said that I was like the welcoming committee here.

Oli Lewington

You mentioned that you did some fundraising as well while you were here. You did a sponsored silence, I think? So, the thing that I'm interested in with a sponsored silence is, first of all, you're clearly a really social guy and you like going around and talking to people. And secondly, you're in a hospital where sometimes things go wrong.

I mean, it feels like it must have been a really big thing for you.

Krishna Patel

Yeah. So originally the idea was 24 hours and I thought, you know what, I'll do 48 hours. Big mistake. Big mistake. Not talking for 24 hours. It was hard enough, but two days is hard. And it's really funny because obviously I was silent and I was thinking, how do I get around things? So, I picked a day where I knew I didn't have any procedures or anything and people just had to come and do your bloods and things like that. So I had a piece of paper, a notebook with a pen, so I'd write things down and then some of the nurses would come into my room and they would be silent. And I was writing down, you don't need to be silent. And they're like, oh, okay, now we get it. But yeah, it's hard. I think I raised in total three and a half grand, which is double to seven because there's initiative.

Oli Lewington

And that was for the Royal Brompton and Harefield Charity, right? 

Krishna Patel

Yeah. I love that charity. They're great people. They do great work. And I was happy to raise that kind of money. Would I do a silence again? No, never. It's too hard. Too hard, I think as well, people were doing it so I’d just shut up for like two days. But yeah, it was difficult. It was really difficult.

Oli Lewington

And am I right in thinking it was for the patient fund? 

Krishna Patel

Yeah, it was for the patient fund. So, I didn't know what it would be for. I just thought it was for the charity and they said it was for the patient fund, which meant more to me because obviously I was a patient as well, right? And I see what everybody goes through. So, if you can raise some money just to get some more books, more games, I don't know, to do some more activities, that was helpful.

But my time on Rowan and Fir Tree was great. Like the nurses become like your family because you've got nobody else, and they can only understand, and your life becomes the four walls of the hospital. But I tried to keep things as normal as possible and also just trying to find a passion because I knew life would be different when I got out, right? You can't run a million miles an hour like you would do before. You've got to adapt and get ready and embrace your new heart and your new world. And also, like getting used to the fact that somebody else's organ is in your body.

Oli Lewington

Yeah. So I think there's two different things there, aren’t there? There's the dying part and then there's the organ part. The thing that used to wind me up is people used to call me brave when I was waiting for my transplant. It's like it's not brave. There's nothing brave about just living. There's nothing else I can do. I have no other options. I know I'm dying. I know my lungs are failing me. That's not brave. That's living the life that I've got. I think the bit about the organ and having different organs inside you, that’s a completely different mindset, I think. And it does take some getting used to as much as you know that it's coming, that you know that that's the entire point, that you will hopefully get someone else's organs, getting used to the fact that that has actually happened is really difficult.

Krishna Patel

Yeah, I agree with you on the brave thing because I said to one of the consultants, they said, you're being brave. I said, well, I'm not ready. It's just my life. And I'm sitting in a nice en-suite room, getting fed free food and like not doing much. And she goes, what do you mean? I said, brave is being a single mother with three kids, being homeless and trying to feed them, that's brave. What I'm doing is just I'm just living my life like. It's not perfect, but it is what it is, you know what I mean And I'm being looked after. 

I think with the organ thing I got over that really quickly because for me it was, they give you that form, right, to fill in. Is there stuff you wouldn't have? I ticked it all. I'll have anything. I'll have a cow, a sheep, whatever. It's fine as long as it works.

For me, the one thing I knew was I didn't want to die. I just literally got married in the August and I was in hospital in the October. So, I had, what, three months of being married. And then our first year of marriage was me in a hospital bed. And that's not how you want to spend your first year of marriage.

And now I'm out and we've moved to this new house, beautiful house in Ickenham, which is literally down the road from Elephant and Castle. So it's two different vibes. You've got Elephant & Castle, which is very city and I know everybody in that area. And then you've got Ickenham, which is a very quiet village. And, you know, your biggest problem is who's the person next to you that just moved in?

And it's very nice and it's very quaint and stuff. And it was a new home. So when I came home, my wife said, you're being weird. She goes, you're acting like it's my flat and you don't live here. And I said, but I've got to adapt. I've got to adapt and get used to things, like everything's just different.

And I have now. But it was like, I don't want to say imposter syndrome, but you're just trying to get used to it. It took me a good month to get used to it.

Oli Lewington

It's an alien environment, isn't it? And the fact that your wife had to move when you were still an inpatient, it does give you that vibe that it's not your place. It's a place that that is kind of homely in as much as it the same sort of environment, I would imagine to what you were used to, but it's a different place. And I mean, you move anywhere when you've been living somewhere for a year or more, anywhere you move is going to feel weird. And if the other person's had time to get used to it, then it's going to be weirder for you than it is for that.

Krishna Patel

Yeah, I think it's funny because she packed everything as in literally I told it to hire somebody to take the bed and stuff down. She did it all herself. I was really impressed. I never told her that, but I was really impressed. She moved in and she put everything together. She made it very, very homely and even like some of my artwork and stuff that I gave to her, she put it up, and I got there and I was just sitting there. I thought, this is weird. In Elephant & Castle you can imagine, right? Sirens all the time, kids running around. It's a bit loud, there's people running. Even when I went back after my initial MRI, I had people constantly knocking on the door asking if I was alright, if I needed anything. Here, quiet, really quiet. But the good thing about where we live, people know the hospital. So, my pharmacy, the lady that works for him, she worked here actually. She started off at Harefield. So they know about the hospital and stuff, know about your condition and it's really nice. It's just it's very different, right? I've always lived in cities. I've lived at home since I was about 17 years old.

 And I think for me as well, I made a lot of friends in the hospital. So not just patients but staff as well. Like they said to me after I had my operation in ITU, they've never had a patient that have had visitors like I have. Like I had one of the guys that does the cleaning. He was feeding me my lunch one day. Like, a really, really nice guy, an older man, and he came to see me. Even now when I come here, like, I can't go like two steps without somebody saying hello, which is great. It's a great, great feeling. And I always thought, like, I'd come back and volunteer because my thing was I wouldn't come and volunteer to do a class. I think patients need to speak to somebody that's been through it rather than a psychologist. Does that makes sense? So somebody that's been through it, that's been here the long haul and understand what it's like and understands how they feel because it can become a very lonely place, because your partner, your friends, they talk to you and say, oh, we understand, but they don't. They really don't. And I don't mean that in a bad way. I don't want them to understand. I never want anybody to go through what I went through or what you went through, but they'll never understand. And when I spoke to patients that had been through it, I was like, yeah, you get it.

Oli Lewington

You made a really interesting point there. You were talking about one of the cleaning staff coming in and feeding you lunch. And there is something really unique about the community at Harefield being the experience that I've had and that you've had. But I think right across the Royal Brompton and Harefield hospitals, there is a really unique community feel to it, isn't there?

Krishna Patel

Yeah, I think for me, like I've been in business for myself since I was, what, 27? I judge nobody and I'll speak to everybody. And tht was my attitude here. You’re doctor, a nurse, you're a HCA, you're a cleaner. You give us your dinner like. The staff that serve you dinner, you have to be good friends with them because they give you extra, right?

That that was my whole thing. And they're actually nice people. And a couple of the cleaning staff are very interesting. One guy I met, an Asian guy, older guy. I used to call him uncle. He used to work at Heathrow. His son owns bars in Marbella, and he goes if you're ever in Marbella, he goes, send an email and I'll tell him you're coming.

There's another lady here that works here as a housekeeper, and her husband owns a restaurant near where I live. Like just mad little things. And like some of the stuff you learn about these people, it's just interesting. And you realise, like all these things and all these people help the hospital go round, they help them go around. There's no there's no real, real hierarchy.

I've never seen anybody speak down to anybody. Everybody's just the same. So for me, it always be the same. I met patients that were rude to staff and I never liked that. You don't need to be rude to somebody that's trying to save your life and calling them names. There's just no need for it. I don't get it. I get like you're messed up because you're going through this experience and stuff. But at the end of the day, like, the one thing you can control is your emotions, right? That's what I believe anyway. I think as long as you get control of your emotions and everything will come, and I believe the nurses here as well as they nurse you, they're like counsellors, like mini psychologists.

Like I spent hours speaking to nurses. And I mean hours speaking to nurses. And it’ll starts off on my mental health and it'd be about like, what I'd buy my wife or her birthday or whatever, you know what I mean? 

Oli Lewington

It's very easy for people to see staff as just the people that work in a hospital and they do their jobs. And, some of their jobs are great and they're noble and that's wonderful. And I think too many people stop at that point and they don't get that these people actually make an enormous difference. When we talk about the patient experience, it's often seen as a sort of corporate saying of, you know, making sure that patients are happy with the bed that they're sitting in and the food that they're eating.

And actually, the patient experience is about the people that surround them every day. And when you spend a long time on a hospital ward or under the care of a hospital, the people who you see every single day, they help inform your mood. When I was on the ward, there were two HCA’s who came into my room every morning to change my bed and kind of generally clean and tidy a little bit around because I was really messy.

But they came in every morning, and they were so friendly and so chatty, and they were so adept at reading my mood and knowing what I needed, whether it was a kick up the butt or an arm around the shoulder or just some laughs and jokes. And that set me up every single day for what the quality of my day was going to be like.

And it's so difficult to describe to people how important that is. And I know that it's something that you feel particularly strongly about because you're looking at setting up a charity that is all around raising the profile of what health care workers do.

Krishna Patel 

Yeah, I think for me, that whole thing started during COVID. So like I said, my brother's a health care worker. He's a healthcare worker, he’s a pharmacist. A couple of our friends are occupational nurses and nurses. And one of our friends got really ill during COVID, she was off for three months. The day she got better, she went back and that was the day Boris announced he wasn't giving the nurses pay rises, but she still went in.

And I was like, imagine, like I've worked two jobs where I just don't need to go in. I won't. I'll just say I'm sick. But she can't even say she's sick because her colleagues need her. And she cares that much that she just went in. And I talk to her more and more and more. And she was like, oh, it's a normal thing. We’re used to asking for the pay rise and we don't get it. And I was like, how can somebody and this is not meant to mean any disrespect, but I'm not going to mention any business. You've got some businesses where they just do a normal job and they get paid more than health care workers. And you're telling me a health care worker has been told keep him or her alive and you only get this much, and they're not appreciated for what they're doing.

And even when they were protesting out here, like you've got people going past them saying you should be ashamed. And I was like, that's disgusting. You don't know what they do on a daily basis. You don't know when they have to deal with dead bodies and then still be smiling around us. Like imagine that, a lot of these nurses are a lot younger than me.

And they're just dealing with it, dealing with it, dealing with it, dealing with it. And also, they know more about my case than most the doctors and the doctors lean on them for information. There's a there's a massive respect between the doctors and the nurses here. And I never realised that until I was here. And you've got the consultants, very senior consultant speaking to the nurses. I was like bloody hell. I didn't realise they do this much.

And the intellect it takes and also the social care, the social responsibility of not just medically being trained, but psychologically as well.

Oli Lewington

And the thing is that the psychological stuff, it's not even training. It's something that just seems to be almost innate among the staff at Harefield that there is this recognition that you can do the jobs that you're told to do and that you're trained to do. And you can be effective and efficient in doing it.

But actually, if you don't add that psychological element to it, it's really hard to get the best possible patient outcomes. So, what is it that you're trying to achieve with the charity?

Krishna Patel

It goes back, right, like what you said, like the psychological aspect. It's just them. And I think people that work for the NHS, they really care. Like, I care about things, but I've never cared this much like they do. Like really, really, really care. And even me, like my business I've been in like MedTech, I have a recruitment company that does sale and marketing, but we've done some stuff in medicine as well.

So even when I was like speaking to them and they ask about jobs abroad, because we do a lot in like New Zealand, America obviously because they love NHS nurses and they get paid really well. And you tell the nurse and they're like, no, I’d never leave the NHS, I'd never leave. And that to me is just like, wow, you really care, but maybe it's just me, I'm just a bad person. If somebody is offering me 100 grand a year, I'm going, I'm gone, I'm there. But I think when you get people like that that really care, like something needs to be said and something needs to be done. For me, the charity is going to be called twenty-five. 25 because that was the rate my heart was working at. And then obviously it declined, declined, declined, declined as it went on. So, the number is really significant for me. 

It's about raising awareness for nurses, HCA’s, doctors - about what they actually do, because you wouldn't know. I didn't know. And my wife's a doctor, my brother's healthcare worker, like our friends are all healthcare workers. I didn't know like they do this, this, this, this and this and this and the do all with a smile on their faces. They just care. 

And even I got sepsis. So, I was walking around in the afternoon and it's really hot. I went back to my room, I passed out, I woke up and I was sweating. I was absolutely sweating and then I was shivering. So my nurse, Billy, she's amazing. She came in, she's like I think you’ve got Sepsis. I need to take your bloods. They couldn't get blood out of me because all my veins had gone to complete shock. But the care that they showed me that day, amazing. Like they do it every day, but I was really ill. The next day I was fine. And then the few days later, I refused to go down to Rowan because they wanted somebody to take more care of me.

And then my one nurse Niahm, she's a Irish girl. She's really nice. She's very direct with me because she knows who I am. She’s like okay, I'm in charge today, you’re going downstairs. And I was like, okay. So, I went downstairs and amazing. Like, I hadn't been on Rowan because Rowan's an HDU, it's high dependency. And the nursing down there was amazing. I had my own nurse. My room was massive, my TV was good. I had a big window. I made really good friends with the kitchen staff there, so they used to give me a big meal as well. The care in the staff is amazing and I just think they don't get enough credit for what they do

Oli Lewington

So just finally, I want to I want to focus in a little bit more on the I guess, the smaller goals that you've got. The more personal ones that you have, having now had your transplant facing this new life that you've been given. For me, I always said if I get six months of a different quality of life after my transplant, I'm absolutely fine with that. I just want the opportunity to go and play in the garden with my godson, which is something I haven't been able to do for years by this point. That was all I wanted to do. Do you have those kind of just smaller, personal, little things that actually most people wouldn't even give a thought to?

Krishna Patel

Yeah, I think that's interesting you say about the godson. So my brother and his wife just had a baby and my wife's sister had a baby as well. And the first time I met her, I was in hospital. I was in hospital. And now she's a year old just over a year. So, spending time with the kids, both kids, sets of kids. I've got nieces and nephews. The other thing is as well, to go abroad. I've never been abroad with my wife, ever. When we met, I got ill, couldn't go anywhere. We did like Cornwall, Edinburgh and stuff like that. But we've never been abroad. And then I think for us it's just about building a normal life, whatever normal looks like now. And like she's taking care of me for so long, I think it's about time I actually become a husband rather than just, you know, a patient.

But yeah, and I think I've got a lot of bigger goals as well. Like I'm going to start my own podcast and go back to doing content. I want to work, but I'm not going to do what put me in hospital in the first place. I'm a really ambitious guy and I like working hard and I love what I do, but I'm not going to do it to the point where I'll give myself another heart attack.

My dad actually had a stroke in November and my dad is like, he's a made man himself. He came from India in 1979, married my mum very quickly because that was the days of arranged marriages, right? And then he worked. And then he built this business up and now he had the stroke. And the doctors are saying to us, you can put him in a home and we’re like we’re not going to put him in a home because he worked this hard so he doesn't have to work anymore. Now you’re telling us to put him in a home. We're not to do that. So, for me, it's about spending time with family. And I never realised, like, I love my family, but I don't spend that much time. I spend a lot on my brother and my sister, not because they're here, but just spending time, a lot more time with my mum and my dad and my sister and just my niece and nephews. I think that's what's important. I think with money, like you know it comes and it goes. It is what it is. It's there. It's not. But I think with family, that's what really matters. And I know I'm saying that now, but I really, really do mean it.

I even thought about it at Christmas. And I was like, you know what? It doesn't really matter. Nothing else matters because we have everything. I think the most important thing like you is family and trying to be a husband.

Oli Lewington

Krishna, thank you so much for talking to us today. It's been fascinating. I've really enjoyed it.

Krishna Patel

Thanks, Oli. Thanks for having me. It's been exceptional.

Oli Lewington

I really enjoyed talking to Krishna today. You really get a sense of his passion for this hospital and for the people who work here. And I think what was most wonderful for me to hear is that 16 years on from my own transplant, the patient experience is really no different. The people are just as passionate, they’re just as dedicated to making sure that they're providing the best possible care in every possible sense. And that community feeling and the level of teamwork and I guess integration between all of the different departments and people, it's still there and it still works and it still makes such a difference to patients when they're coming at probably the hardest time in their lives and what could be a horrible experience they managed to make somehow a bearable one. I hope you enjoyed listening. I hope you got as much from listening to Krishna talk as I did, and I hope that you'll come back for our next episode on More Than a Hospital.