Colin Davidson, from Loanhead, suffered heart problems for thirteen years and struggled to walk very far without getting severely out of breath.
The 59-year-old said crippling breathlessness terrified him and left him feeling he could be at death’s door any second. His condition worsened and two years ago it had become heart failure.
But after surgery earlier this year he was transplanted with a heart that had stopped beating, thanks to new technology which keeps hearts beating for longer outside the body.
Now he says he feels normal again and has praised medical teams for giving him a new lease of life.
“I was getting dizziness more often, breathlessness, no energy, couldn’t walk 200 yards without being out of breath and having to stop. It was really scary at times, thinking, ‘is this my last breath, is this it?’.
Colin said, “They told me with having a rare blood group it could be up to two years to receive a transplant to best prepare me. But luckily for me it was only five weeks, which I’m so grateful for.
“I don’t feel special being the first one in Scotland to have this procedure. I just feel grateful beyond words to my donor and their family and all of the medical and healthcare professionals who have given me a life again.”
'I feel normal again'
Mr Davidson’s operation took place at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Clydebank - only the seventh centre in the world to transplant a heart that has stopped beating.
Colin added, “I obviously didn’t know at the time I was going to get a DCD (Donation after Circulatory Death) heart, but I was just really glad that someone could gift me their heart and I now feel 100 per cent better. I feel normal again, which is just an amazing feeling.”
Until recently, the ground-breaking treatment was considered too risky. Surgeons were only able to transplant beating hearts from donors after they were certified brain dead.
Experts say advanced technology called the Organ Care System that makes DCD tranpslants possible will ultimately save more lives - it means doctors can consider many more organs for transplant than they have in the past.
Golden Jubilee Consultant Transplant Surgeon Phil Curry carried out the Colin’s procedure with the help of Royal Papworth’s Simon Messer and the dedicated transplant team at the Clydebank hospital.
He said: “Years of research have gone into the possibility of using non-beating hearts to significantly increase the number of people who could benefit from the procedure.
“DCD Heart Retrieval and DCD Heart Transplantation will be a new chapter in future heart transplantation for our recipients in Scotland that will increase the number of heart transplants and give our recipients this life changing and life-saving opportunity.”
Colin’s wife Susan said: “Our lives are in the surgeons’ hands, not just Colin’s life, but my life as well. I would just like to thank the person that has donated this heart and their family for what they have done for us. I would love for more people to consider donating their organs because, honestly, it is totally life-changing for families.”