Heart recipient to turn 30 during 30th anniversary of life-saving heart transplants in Scotland

It is the ultimate Christmas gift that has saved hundreds of lives across Scotland over three decades.

With today marking 30 years of life-saving heart transplantations in Scotland, one patient is looking forward to his 30th birthday celebration this festive period.

Euan Bisset, a heart transplant patient from Muir of Ord near Inverness, turns 30 on Boxing Day after a life-saving heart transplant in 2018.

A keen mountain bike racer, Mr Bisset worked as a welder for his family’s company before his operation.

Jane Cannon, NHS Golden Jubilee consultant cardiologist in advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation.

The 29-year-old was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and cardiomyopathy in 2009 and received an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) in 2015.

His condition worsened severely until he was told he would need a new heart in 2018.

Mr Bisset said: “When one of the surgeons told me that my ‘heart wasn’t good’, I knew it was serious, but I welcomed the diagnosis as I had gradually been feeling worse over the years.

“I was really lucky. I only had to wait about four weeks after I went on the urgent list.

Dr Jane Cannon said the journey for cardiac transplantation has been positive over the past 30 years in Scotland.

“My new heart wasn’t pumping the blood right straight away and it was very touch and go and I was in ICU for weeks and had some problems afterwards too.

“I was so weak I basically had to learn to walk again, but the physios and everyone else were brilliant and eventually got me onto a bike and I just kept going from there, building my strength up again.

“I’m doing really good now. I think this year is the first time since 2018 that I’ve not spent time in any hospital, apart from check-ups. I’ve had some problems but my heart feels perfect.

“It’s a miracle to still be alive and I’m just really grateful.

"Emotionally, it’s hard knowing that someone died for me to be alive, but it’s comforting knowing that’s what they wanted."

The ground-breaking transplant service began at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary on December 16, 1991, before the country’s first historic heart transplant was carried out on January 2, 1992.

A total of 445 lives have been saved since through the service following the gift of life from donors and their families who have selflessly supported the donation of organs so others can live.

Of that figure, 281 transplants were carried out in the Glasgow hospital, while 164 have been performed at NHS Golden Jubilee in Clydebank since the service moved there in 2008.

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The transplant team at the NHS Golden Jubilee in Clydebank has carried out 41 heart transplants over the Covid-19 pandemic alone.

Dr Jane Cannon, NHS Golden Jubilee consultant cardiologist in advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation, said: “A lot has changed in the world of cardiac transplantation over the past 30 years.

“As technology evolves, so too does our clinical practice. One example of this would be the development of the Organ Care System (OCS), which is a medical device used in the transportation of donor hearts.

“In Scotland especially, this allows us a wider access to donor organs from all over the UK – as the heart can travel safely from further afield.

“It has been a very positive journey for cardiac transplantation over the past 30 years and we look forward to an exciting next 30 years.”

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