A young dad who received his heart transplant at NHS Golden Jubilee, has said it has given him the best days of his life, and allowed him to be present at the birth of his first child.
Ross Peters, from Dundee, was 21 when he was out with friends when he felt suddenly unwell. After deciding to go home early, he awoke the next morning and couldn’t catch his breath.
After being taken by ambulance to Ninewells Hospital, Ross was transferred to the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service (SNAHFS) at NHS Golden Jubilee. There, the team diagnosed him with cardiomyopathy – a disease of the heart muscle which affects its ability to pump blood around the body.
In the summer of 2020 Ross was shielding due to the COVID-19 pandemic but his health had deteriorated to the point that he was put on the urgent transplant list - just months before his wife was due to give birth to their first child. 5 years after being diagnosed with the rare heart condition, Ross was admitted to hospital and warned he was too sick to leave.
Ross said: “When I was first diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, I was told that eventually I’d need a heart transplant, I just didn’t think it would be this soon.
“I went into the Golden Jubilee thinking it wouldn’t be that bad and was then told I was so ill I couldn’t leave the Hospital and actually needed a heart transplant.
“It was during lockdown, my wife was pregnant, it was awful and all I could think about was being well enough to be at my wife’s side for the birth of our son.”
Over the next two months Ross’s wife and family were only able to have limited visits due to Coronavirus restrictions.
After 8 weeks in Hospital, Ross was woken up and told a donor heart had become available.
Just 12 weeks after the life-saving surgery, Ross was by his wife’s side as son Louis was born.
He said: “It sounds funny but I felt this warm feeling go through my body, as if a weight was being lifted. All I could think about was being out for Louis’s birth, which I didn’t think would happen.
“After the transplant I took each day at a time, step by step, working up to being able to carry the baby out of the hospital – which I did.
“I take 15 tablets everyday but I roll out of bed – I can do anything I set my mind to; nothing stops me. Now, I can raise my son and none of that would have been possible without a heart transplant. I’m so grateful to my donor, and thankful to everyone at the Golden Jubilee who supported my family and I during this time.”
NHS Golden Jubilee Consultant Transplant Cardiologist, Dr Jane Cannon, said: “Sometimes people are so unwell when they come here, that they can end up on the urgent heart transplant waiting list. This means that they don’t leave hospital until they receive a new heart.
“In some cases, patients can get to a stage that they rely on machines to keep them alive until a suitable organ is found. Often the realisation of how unwell they were only registers when they are in better physical health - that realisation can be very dramatic and affects people in different ways.
“When patients go home post-transplant, every day activities, such as getting up and opening the curtains or going for a walk, can really bring home the fact that they have been given the gift of life from people who have donated their organs.
“So it is important that you make your wishes known to your loved ones so that they can honour your wishes should the time come.”
NHS Golden Jubilee provides regional and national heart and lung services for NHSScotland, and is the home of Scotland’s only adult heart transplantation unit. The team have performed 36 heart transplants since the onset of the pandemic for patients from all across the country; which is only made possible thanks to the generosity of organ donors.
For more information, visit: NHSGoldenJubilee.co.uk.