Plymouth man kept alive by transplants for 25 years
A MAN who was given a life-saving heart transplant has just celebrated the 25th anniversary of his surgery – despite being told it would only last a maximum of 10 years.
Forty-six-year-old Paul Hayman appeared on the front page of The Herald in 1987 on the day he underwent an operation which he said "saved his life".
Five years previously he'd been struck down with a serious and rare heart condition which made his heart four times its normal size.
Paul's surgery was carried out by Sir Terence English, the man who performed Britain's first ever successful heart transplant.
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On December 18, 1987 Paul, then aged 20, was rushed to Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire via ambulance and plane, wearing his favourite Plymouth Argyle shirt, after a two-month wait for the vital organ.
At the time Paul said he knew he would die without the transplant.
The former Plympton Secondary School student is now backing The Herald's Gift of Life campaign and is urging people to sign the Organ Donor Register.
He said: "The transplant saved my life. I was told after the operation that my new heart would only last between five and 10 years because it is an organ which ages quickly, so to reach 25 years is quite an achievement.
"My heart could pack in at any time but it doesn't worry me. I've had 25 great years and two great daughters. My only worry is that I might not be here to see them get married. But I'm hoping, with my medication, that I might be here in another 25 years . It would be a miracle but you never know.
"All those years ago never did I ever think that I would be here today. I want to highlight the importance of organ donation and how it saves people's lives."
Paul celebrated the anniversary of his transplant with a family meal, champagne and a toast to the last 25 years.
Despite having successful heart surgery, Paul's life has not been without its challenges.
He married his childhood sweetheart Sarah Carter in 1991, who he had been with for a year at the time of the surgery, and together they had two daughters Melissa, 20, and Lucy, 16.
But the couple split after 18 years and Paul, a former electrician, now lives with his parents Christine and Edward at the family home following a period of bad health resulting in unemployment.
And, at the age of 37, Paul's kidneys began to fail.
But, following six years on dialysis and two years waiting on the transplant list, he finally found a donor and had successful surgery at Derriford Hospital.
Paul said: "Being on dialysis for six years was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. It's all down to the staff at Derriford, Papworth, and my family and friends that I'm alive today.
"Organ donation is so important and perhaps if the law was changed to an opt-out system there would be a lot more people like myself who would still be alive."
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