Heart transplant joy for new dad (26)

A FATHER-OF-TWO who underwent a life-saving heart transplant operation earlier this year is urging people to “think positively” about organ donation.

Ben Knight (26) had the five-and-a-half-hour op at Whythenshawe Hospital, Manchester – just weeks before the birth of his son, Oscar.

Ben, who lives with his partner Lindsey Burtonwood in Whalley Road, Simonstone, and is also father of six-year-old Dylan, feared he would die before his new baby was born.

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Having been given a “second chance”, he is urging people to sign the organ donation register and raise money for New Start (Whythenshawe Hospital’s Transplant Fund).

“I was worried I wouldn’t see the birth of Oscar who is 13 weeks old,” said Ben. “It was a very difficult time for Lindsay and the rest of my family.”

A former pupil of Ribblesdale High School, Ben explained how he was fit and healthy until he contracted a throat infection aged 16. “I was admitted to Burnley General Hospital where tests revealed I had glandular fever. I was transferred to the Critical Care Unit and remained there for two months as my heart was only working 15%.” He added that, after four months, he started to respond to the medication and was put on blood pressure tablets and beta-blockers.

Ben, an ex-pupil of Sabden Primary School, was added to the organ donor waiting list and had to change his lifestyle, giving up his job as an apprentice builder and hobbies, including football.

But, after 14 months on the waiting list, Ben’s condition deteriorated last October. He said: “I contracted a chest infection and my health went from bad to worse. I had a blood test which showed my oxygen levels were really low. The doctors told me my body had begun to reject the medication that had kept me alive for 10 years.

“As weeks passed, I began to feel breathless, tired, weak, had no motivation and was freezing all the time. My name was added to the emergency heart transplant list, but it was a frightening time for us as Lindsey was pregnant and there was no guarantee a donor match would be found in the next few months.”

In April Ben received the news a possible match had been found. “It all happened very quickly. I was relieved but scared at the same time.”

It is believed an 18-strong team of surgeons assisted in the operation and Ben made a full recovery. He added: “I was discharged in May and Oscar was born in June so I had little time to build my strength!”

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Ben has thanked medics at Whythenshawe Hospital and friends Jack and Julie Holding, who took part in a cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for New Start.

Ben went on: “Everyone deserves a second chance in life if there is a chance, so I urge people to please consider the donor register.”

For information on organ donation log onto www.uktransplant.org.uk