In my youth my sport was swimming and  I managed to get selected for Great Britain in some minor International events, but owing to some erratic times I never quite managed to get to one of the big events; Olympic or World Championships.  In my late teens it was obvious that I had some problem, but it could not be identified so I concentrated on my career and competing in lifesaving and surf lifesaving events winning the British Championships in both.

During my early 20’s there were a number of incidents both in the pool and whilst competing in other sports where my heart stopped and I had to be resuscitated and hospitalised.  At the age of 26 my problem was finally diagnosed as ARVC (Arrythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy) and I was told to stop swimming and all other aggressive aerobic sports.  Throughout the time between then and reaching the age of 60 I had many incidents where my heart would beat very fast and go out or rhythm where I had to be rushed to hospital to be cardioverted. I attended numerous hospitals, particularly in London to try and resolve the problem, but it couldn’t be resolved as it was identified as a known congenital defect.  Eventually I was fitted with an ICD (Internal Cardiac Defibrillator) which I had for over 15 years being changed 5 times for better and more sophisticated ones.

Shortly before my 60th birthday I was in a critical state, my heart having arrested in an operating theatre at Manchester Royal Infirmary where I was having another ICD fitted.  I was only recovered through 22 minutes of manual cardiac compression as my heart had gone into a spasm and the external ICD could not shock it back!  After time in the ICU and CCU I was told that there was little more they could do for me, but they were willing to try and get me assessed at Wythenshawe Hospital Transplant Centre with the hope they might feel I was suitable and be placed on the transplant list.  Wythenshawe did accept me for assessment and in January 2007 placed me on the Transplant List, but with only a slight chance that I would get a suitable heart in time!

On April 12th I was reassessed and given 10 to 14 days to live!  By this time I was in a wheelchair on permanent oxygen!  At 1.30am on Monday 17th April my wife got a phone call to say a suitable heart had become available and I was asked to attend the Transplant Centre immediately, but only as a backup patient in case the person the heart was designated for was unable to go ahead with the operation; on arrival I was prepped for surgery just in case.  Around 5am, I was informed that tests had shown the person who should have received the heart had very aggressive antibodies and could not be transplanted at that time, but the heart was a perfect match for me if I still wanted it!  I obviously said yes and the surgeon touched my arm and said “congratulations you have just won the lottery”!  I don’t remember the next 7 days!

I was in hospital for 6 weeks and It took me 2 years to rebuild my body as I had no muscles left anywhere!  I used medically supervised exercise and swimming as part of my initial rehabilitation before doing more aggressive exercise.  It was hard work as I had not done anything at this level for 35 years.  I later also took up cycling as an alternative form of exercise. I now have my driving licence back.  My wife has her life back after looking after me 24/7 for many, years and I am able to do everything I want and live a fulfilling life.

My sport is swimming, but I also cycle for fitness and  leisure and to promote the Organ Donor Register.

I first competed in the British transplant games in Coventry in 2009 having heard about it from my Transplant Centre, Wythenshawe.

I feel my sport and exercise programme was an integral part of my recovery, the continuation of which supports my body’s ability to cope with the numerous drugs I have to take daily as prevention against rejection and illness.  I also believe it assists my other organs which are constantly being attacked by the drugs to perform better.

 

I have listed below some highlights and milestones of my swimming for your information:

2007 – 17th April – Admitted to Wythenshawe Hospital Transplant Unit and underwent Heart Transplant Operation

2009 – May – Joined the Masters section of ‘Aquabears of Rochdale’ Swimming Club to train in competition swimming.

2009 – August – Represented Wythenshawe Hospital Transplant Team in Swimming at the British Transplant Games in Coventry – winning 2 gold & 1 silver medal.

2009 – November – whilst competing for my club in a Masters event in Southport – tore my right rotator cuff and snapped my right bicep tendon!

2010 – June – Right shoulder operated on – followed by 6 months rehab.  The rest of 2010 was getting back to where I started!

2011 – June – Represented the Great Britain Transplant Team in swimming at the World Transplant Games in Gothenburg, Sweden in the short course (25 meter pool). Won 5 gold medals and set 5 world records.

2011- August – Represented Wythenshawe Hospital Transplant Team at the British Transplant Games in Belfast.  Won 5 gold medals.  Won my age category (60 to 69 years) trophy for best transplanted athlete.  Won trophy for overall best Heart Transplant Athlete of the games.

2011 – October – Represented my club at the British Masters Short Course Swimming Championships in Sheffield.  Won 1 Gold 2 Silver & 3 bronze medals.

2012 – May – Represented my club at the British Masters Long Course Swimming Championships in Sheffield.  Won 2 bronze medals.

2012 – June – Represented Great Britain at the European Heart & Lung Transplant Games in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. Won 5 Gold Medals.

2012 – August – Represented Wythenshawe Hospital Transplant Team at the British Transplant Games in Medway.  Won 5 gold medals.  Won my age category (60 to 69 years) trophy for best transplanted athlete.  Won trophy for overall best Heart Transplant Athlete of the games.

2012 – October – Represented my club at the British Masters Short Course Swimming Championships in Sheffield.  Won 1 silver & 2 bronze medal.

2012 – November – Represented Lancashire at the British Masters Inter-counties Swimming Championships.

2013 – July – Represented Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa. This was a Long Course (50 meter pool) competition.  I won 5 gold medals & set 3 world records.

2013 – August – Represented Wythenshawe Hospital Transplant Team at the British Transplant Games in Sheffield.  This was a long course competition. Won 5 gold medals.  Won my age category (60 to 69 years) trophy for best transplanted athlete.  Won trophy for overall best Heart Transplant Athlete of the games.

2013 – October – Compete in the British Masters Short Course Swimming Championships in Sheffield in October winning 2 bronze medals, but then my left shoulder gave up!

2014 February – Eventually got shoulder operated on in February 2014 (repair to rotator cuff & re-attachment of the bicep tendon).

2014 – July – Represented the British Transplant Team at the European Heart and Lung Transplant Games in Vilnius, Lithuania.  Won 5 Gold Medals.

2014 – August – Represented Wythenshawe Hospital Transplant Team at the British Transplant Games in Bolton.  Won 5 gold medals.  Won my age category (60 to 69 years) trophy for best transplanted athlete.  Won trophy for overall best Heart Transplant Athlete of the games.

2015 – May – Represented my club at the British Masters Long Course Swimming Championships in Manchester.  Won 2 bronze medals.