A new heart saved my life. Too many others don't get that chance

THE GUARDIAN | Kieran Sandwell
Kieran Sandwell, 45, looks at his old heart which he donated to medical research after having a transplant when his failed
I’m alive today because I had a heart transplant at the age of 38. I grew up in fear of what was around the corner because I knew that my heart was unreliable. Life was a rollercoaster of optimism and depression, the ups and downs of a future that ultimately relied on someone, somewhere, giving me the biggest gift possible – their heart.

A woman who died before her time, who I will never get to thank, gave me that gift. I can’t begin to tell you what this has meant to me and those I love.

I was born with a congenital heart defect called transposition of the great arteries, where the heart’s main arteries are the wrong way round. I had open heart surgery (aged three), endocarditis (seven), a heart attack (13), mini strokes (21), and a defibrillator fitted in my 30s. By my mid-30s I had developed heart failure and was deteriorating rapidly.

My life was in limbo. I was too ill to recover but too well for a transplant. There were not enough organs available and others had greater need. My wife did everything for me, bar washing and dressing. The world was passing me by; I was too tired to keep up. Continue reading

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