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Dr. Christiaan N. Barnard
Sir Prof Magdi Yacoub

Steven Tibbey
Denise Darvall
Rebecca Nix
Natalie Brown

Artificial Heart
Jim Braid
Matthew Green
obert Tools

Heart Transplants

Andrea Barrett
Shannon Curran
Emma Grace George
Ashlea Jerome
Leslie Keown
Jade Licence
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Hannah Pudsey
Lizzie Rogaski

Post Op Diary
Louis Washkansky
Carol Agle
Trish Byng
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Reg Chisholm
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Gay Eberhart
Jill Edwards
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John Fisher
Mick Foster
Steve Henderson
Buddy Hickey
Tanya Jones
John McCafferty
Derrick Morris
Bob Pitcock
Charlotte Jane Tate
Ann Woodbridge

Heart and Lung
Diana Chandler
John Rueben
Peta Capello

Domino Transplants
Peter Allinson
Shonqueela Mallory
Andrew Wilson

Jonathon Holmes

Carers Story
Helen Nutman
Sandra Taylor

Waiting For Transplant
Diana Chandler

Jonathon Holmes
 (Lvad Patient until a donor heart was found)
My near fatal experience 

Jonathon HolmesWell all those years ago when Dr Christian Barnard transplanted the first heart, yes and I can remember it, I never dreamt that I would require a transplant. 
My family has more members who have had heart problems than those that don’t and that is both sides of my immediate family with all my grandparents, and four great uncles, two great aunts and two uncles. So when the doctor asked me is there any heart problems in your family, I could honestly say it would be easier to tell you who has not had problems. 
I live in a little village called Pendeen in Cornwall and work as a Curator of an Art Gallery and Museum in Penzance, my name is Jonathan Holmes. I suffered my first heart attack in 1997, while on a working visit to Birmingham Art Gallery and guess what I had just had my fortieth birthday. Enough said about Life Begins at Forty ! I was rushed into the City Hospital in Birmingham with the paramedics saying its an asthma attack, lucky I had seen few heart attacks, I was given an ECG and then put in ITU over night. I spent 10 days in hospital before traveling back to Cornwall, stopping at a Travel lodge half way at Taunton to break the journey. In Cornwall I undertook exercise and rehabilitation classes and after two visits to the consultant and a good exercise test was pronounced fit and discharged and then left in the care of my GP. I was told that if I take it easy, relax and take the drugs prescribed well I should not suffer another heart attack. How wrong could they be! There were contributing factors I am an Insulin dependent diabetic with a family history of high cholesterol. 
Having just started a temporary period of secondment at another Museum, I was exited in what the future had in store for me but it was just six weeks into the one year contract that disaster struck. It was September the 15th 1999, I drove to work it was a lovely sunny day and I had just got back from a camping holiday in the middle of nowhere in Dorset. Feeling relaxed I unlocked the Museum walked up to my office and guess what – my chest was getting tight and I had difficulty breathing. I had the presence of mind to walk down to the front door where my deputy was unloading his car. There being no hospital within twenty miles, he rushed me up to his health centre where they administered some drugs – which – well I can’t remember. 
I was then sent to a smaller hospital rather than the main hospital in Cornwall, which is Treliske at Truro. I was rushed to the West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance which has a very small ITU for cardiac patients. I was there for a week and then discharged – but at that time I had so much fluid retention that I could hardly walk, my chest was making very interesting noises. I sounded like a boiling hot water tank. So why was I discharged it still makes me wonder. I was very fortunate in having a good friend who trained as a nurse and agreed to stay the night, he was so worried that he called the doctor three times during the night. I had two frusemide (diuretic) injections. But with no luck, this was a Friday, I was readmitted to the West Cornwall Hospital again and little was done until the Sunday when a young doctor was very unhappy with my condition. The next day I was transferred to the Treliske hospital by hi speed ambulance for special care in their HDU Cardiac Unit under the care of Dr Mourant. 
I was not expected to live that night and had my breathing forced by machine and I urinated nearly 10 litres through the early part of that night. I remember coming round at one point and seeing all my family around my bed, not realising the seriousness of my situation. Looking back it was something akin to those Mafia films with being the Godfather. About a week later on the 5th October after much discussions between Treliske Hospital and Harefield, I was airlifted at about 6 pm, arriving at the helipad at Harefield Hospital about an hour and a half later. By that time I understand my condition had deteriorated again and it was touch and go whether they could even consider operating. My vital signs picked up during the night and I was rushed into theatre where they fitted an electric heart assist device called an LVAD for short which stands for Left Ventricular Assist Device.
Without this device I would not be here now. They use the device in two different ways
 1. As a bridge to transplant. i.e. to wait until a suitable organ becomes available.
2. As a bridge to recovery i.e. sometimes the heart it has been found will mend it’s self in certain cases. But this was not the case with me.
The device is large, about the size of a large grapefruit and is fitted in the abdomen and is driven by a electric motor which pumps using a diaphragm . The pump is fed its power supply through a tube in the lower abdomen which has three main functions, to power the pump via batteries or a mains / battery unit. It also when connected to the power base unit, a unit that charges the batteries and allows the user not to use the batteries at night for example, can via a computer type screen give feedback on the flow of blood and other details. 
If the worst happens and the electric motor stops, it can be operated by a hand pump but because of this it is necessary for the person fitted with the pump to have 24 hour supervision. This means you can not be left alone 24 hours a day. This proved the most difficult part for me as you had no privacy. When at home my mother even bought a baby alarm and carried it about so she could always here me. The large size of the pump, meant that for the first few months I found it very difficult to eat even small amounts would be returned so to speak, so small portions quite often were the order of the day. It was a good three months before I could eat a larger meal. I was in the hospital until the beginning of December when I moved with my friend into one of the flats that the hospital has in the village of Harefield especially for people who come from a distance. Living near Lands End, well you can’t get much further can you? Living with the LVAD can mean that you can have a near normal life, I mean near normal not normal. No disco dancing or gymnastics ! You need to learn your limitations but not to become a couch potato. Exercise being very important, being fit when a heart became available stood me in very good stead. 
Well, Christmas went with a whimper and we were warned to be prepared for a problem on the stroke of midnight i.e. the millennium bug. Well Paul, my friend had the hand pump ready but when it got to 12.30 and the machine was still chuffing away, we cracked open a bottle of the bubbly stuff and had one glass each – Wow my first glass of the falling down juice since the beginning of September. Outside there were some wonderful fireworks from other peoples parties and the village do.
From the day I was back in the land of the conscious after the fitting of the LVAD and living, my main aim was to get back home to the land of pasties and clotted cream! This dream had given me something to live for, fight for and to work towards. But up until then you had to live within 50 miles of Harefield, so that you could get back to the hospital quickly. After a meeting in January with all the surgeons, doctors and specialist support staff, which was chaired by Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, I was allowed home. Hurray ! the reasoning behind this was they could always fly me back if necessary something they would have to do if and when I would be called for transplant. One other factor was that I have a rare blood group AB+ so I might have to wait longer than the so called average. 
I arrived home, traveling down with the specialist support staff, Dr Chris Bowles, LVAD Nurse Mandy Hipkin and Transplant co-ordinator Pam Baldock. The next few days were hectic with training sessions being run for the staff at the main hospital in Cornwall, Treliske, Truro and also for the District nurse teams and GP’s on the LVAD, Harefield’s work and for me on the regimes needed for the special dressings of the entry site for the drive line, which takes the power supply to the LVAD. All went well for around three months until my abdominal wound started to cause concern. I woke up one morning and did a good impression of the film Alien. The wound opened up in a small area and out spurted, yes I do mean spurted a thick liquid all over the floor, my legs and well I just don’t know how I did not panic. Something told me it was old blood and the district nurse confirmed it. I was brought back to Harefield where a small operation was undertaken to check it and clean it. Now at that time I came up on a Friday and was told that I could go home on the Monday, unfortunately they did not tell me which Monday and nearly four months later I was still there. There was an unknown infection which they decided to treat using a combination of IV and oral antibiotics. They scanned me and X rayed me in many different ways. At one point I thought that aliens had landed when I was told today you are going to have an nuclear “Infecton” scan ! It was fun having Beware Radioactive written on your door. These checks took place regularly until the final solution occurred.
It was a Sunday night, and I had a knock on my door at about midnight and Tracy the Transplant co-ordinator came in and told me that they had a heart and they wished to go ahead with the transplant later that night. At 4am I was taken down to the theatre and I understand that I was in there for around ten hours. My first recollection was waking up in the intensive care unit but which day that was I just can’t say.  
I came out of the ITU on the Saturday afternoon and was placed back in the Transplant ward, which was already a sort of second home to me. Welcomed back by all the nurses it was great. The next few days various drips and drivers were disconnected and eventually I could get out of bed with some help, and was soon walking with the help of the physio’s down the corridor. My mother and sister came up from Cornwall and stayed as long as they could both having difficult family commitments. 
I continued to improve daily and to eat more and more. Two of the major highlights were 
1) Having a shower for the first time since the 14th September 1999.
2) Having a long, in fact very long soak in the bath and coming out resembling a wrinkled anaemic prune ! 
The other highlights were being able to be by myself when I wanted to be, walking around the hospital grounds and going to the Hospital League of Friends for one of their lovely cups of coffee, not quite the Ritz, but a very welcome bolthole off the ward. Lunch and tea meant that I could go over to the Canteen and at least choose what I wanted on the day I was eating it.
Another emotional moment was the first time I walked into the little village of Harefield and was able to potter in the shops, on the way back I stopped in at the Kings Arms where I had a coffee and read a magazine. I suddenly realised that this was the first place I went with Paul after the fitting of my LVAD. Should I confess here and say in fact before I had been officially discharged and had a wonderful roast Sunday lunch. I realised that I was here again, but by myself. I had my life back, something I will always thank the Organ donor and Harefield. I do not know what lies ahead but I plan to look after myself and enjoy life. Follow the rules, even if they seem stupid to some people. If I have to return to Harefield for any incidences of rejection or infection, well that’s life and I realise that soon I will be back again in sunny Cornwall, well that’s probably is a bit of an exaggeration as where I live the wind never seems to stop blowing off the Atlantic Ocean, bracing is not in it. 
I have a lot to learn and it is still very early days but I hope to go back to work by Christmas 2000 and live a full and happy life. From my experiences I can only say - Just Don't Give Up Hope 
Jonathon Holmes



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