Brave Padiham man Patrick describes the mental and physical toll of waiting for a heart transplant

Patrick McCann
Patrick McCann

A brave Padiham born with a rare heart defect has described the mental and physical ordeal that being on a transplant waiting list is like.

Patrick McCann (37) was put on the waiting list more than four years ago. He shared his story last World Heart Day and this year he is still waiting.

Patrick said: “Another year on the list has been filled with uncertainty. I have recently had to quit my job in retail due to feeling anxious and also due to chest pains and tiredness while working.

“I try to keep myself occupied and have recently completed a counselling course which really helped me to deal with the feelings stirred up by waiting for a transplant. Such as if I get my transplant in time, how I will feel after my transplant and if I will survive.

“I am now looking for something to fill my time while waiting for my heart transplant."

The average wait for an adult who needs a heart transplant is nearly three years, that is an average of 1,085 days, for patients who have never been on the urgent waiting list and 30 days for those adults who have been on the urgent list.

These patients are relying on a person or family to say ‘yes’ to organ donation in order to save their life.

Patrick, who has appeared on television's Countdown show, added: “I try to live as best I can. I have suffered more mentally than physically while waiting for my heart transplant. Something I never thought would be the case.

“It's a journey that, unless you have been through it I guess would be difficult to comprehend. It often feels like I am stuck. I find my mood alters daily and I get down, quiet and sad a lot. I try to enjoy times when my physical and mental health are better.

“I would love to compete in the transplant games one day. I would look forward to travelling more and to not feeling so restricted by the prospect of the phone ringing at a moment's notice.

“Organ donation is an amazing thing for someone to do for someone else. I would feel immensely proud to get a transplant and I would feel I would live life more fully, to make the most of a new heart.

“I would say to others that if they would accept an organ would they be willing to donate their organs when the time comes? It is also vital that they share their organ donation wishes with their loved ones.

“If you knew the power that organs can hold, the ability to bring someone back from the brink of death, I think more people would realise that donating organs is a selfless amazing act that can save people's lives.

“Having struggled with my health all my life it would be great to be able to finally feel what it's like to have a healthy heart.”

Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, said: “We can save more lives if more organs are donated, and we urgently need more hearts to help the hundreds of people waiting for a transplant.

“We want to help as many people as possible so we would urge everyone to think about organ donation and share your decision with your family. It’s a conversation that saves lives.

“Sadly 21 patients died last year before they could receive the heart transplant they desperately needed and 201 people have lost their lives in the last five years in need of a heart transplant.”

Next year, the law around organ donation is changing in England and Scotland.

From spring 2020 in England and Autumn 2020 in Scotland, all adults (those aged over 18 in England and over 16 in Scotland) will be considered as having agreed to donate their own organs when they die unless they record a decision not to donate, or are in one of the excluded groups. This system was introduced in Wales in December 2015.

Find out more and register your decision by visiting NHS Organ Donor Register at www.organdonation.nhs.uk and share your decision with your family.