In October 1995 I needed an aorta valve replacement to replace a faulty valve that may have been caused by a childhood illness. Sadly the replacement valve didn’t manage to stop my heart problems and in December 1999 I reluctantly went on the heart transplant waiting list.
When I first went on the waiting list I didn’t really feel that transplant was my only option, the cardiologist’s obviously knew it was but I didn’t feel ill enough for such a huge operation.
As time went by my health deteriorated and I would have to go in to hospital for a week or so every 6-8 weeks.
I needed to have oxygen by my bed at home as during the night I would become very short of breath. In the end I had to pretty much sleep sitting up in bed, because if I laid down fluid would collect in my lungs and I could hardly breath. I would also often sleep with an oxygen mask on, looking and sounding like Star Wars Darthadder.
I had to stop for a rest when going up the stairs (one flight), I would have to get my wife to dry me after a shower as I was to tired to do it myself, I would shave half my face and have to stop for a rest before shaving the other half, I had even stopped brothering about my appearance as everything was just to much effort.
Sunday 30th July 2000 and I got the call, my wife drove me to the hospital and the operation went a head (it is quite common for a transplant to be called off at the last minute).
Just eight days later I feel like superman, all the drains and monitors removed and I am free to wonder the hospital, a few days later I was allowed to go home.
7 weeks post transplant I took part in the hospital 3½ miles fund raising walk.
11 months and I am cycling from London to Brighton 56 miles.
April 2002 and I ran the London Marathon
June 2002 I am on my second cycle ride to Brighton
April 2003 and I did the London Marathon again.
August 2003 London Triathlon
November 2003 I took part in the Athens Marathon 5hrs 15mins
I feel exercise is the key to a long life post transplant
I have also been fortunate enough to meet my donor family and can never thank them and my donor enough for the gift of life.
My first London Triathlon I had the great pleasure of meeting and being interviewed by Steve Cram for BBC Sport
1. Lesley (My Donors mum), Karen (My Donors Sister), Charlie (my daughter) & Me – 2. Magdi Yacoub (my surgeon & me)
This is Steven Tibbey my heart donor
7 days post heart transplant standing by my bed
“As you might imagine, my donor and his family have been in my thoughts daily.
Although I am eternally appreciative of my new lease of life, my gratitude has been overshadowed by my heartfelt sorrow for his family and their loss.
I have accepted my gift with great responsibility and with the hope that I can make a positive difference in someone else’s life like my donor has done for me.”
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