A granddad is now the oldest surviving heart transplant patient in the UK.
Ted Warner, who had his operation at Cambridge’s The Royal Papworth Hospital, is one of very few heart transplant patients in the UK ever to have reached his 90th birthday.
Others have lived for longer after their heart transplant operation than Mr Warner, with 37 years the current UK record.
But the retired company boss from Leicester is currently the oldest living heart transplant patient in the UK, according to the hospital, which performed the UK’s first successful heart transplant in 1979.
The hospital said it confirmed with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which has oversight of national data, that Mr Warner is the oldest person in the UK currently alive with a heart transplant.
Mr Warner was 59 and suffering from heart disease when he had his operation at Papworth Hospital, as it was then known, which was based in Bourn, South Cambridgeshire.
“Heart transplants were still relatively new back then and something you read about in a paper or saw on the news,” he said.
“I never thought it would happen to me, you never do.”
He said that before his operation he could not work and “wasn’t really able to do anything because my health was so bad”.
He was told he had around three weeks to live, and the next day received a call saying a donor heart had become available.
After his operation, he said he could not believe how well he felt.
“It was quite remarkable, my breathing was so much clearer,” he said.
“My heart was so bad that anything would have been an improvement, but it was honestly like being reborn again like I was 16 for a second time.”
In the years since his operation, he has seen both of his sons, Neil and Adam, get married and he now has three grandchildren.
He plays golf and goes clay pigeon shooting twice a week, alongside his routine of immunosuppression medication which sees him take eight tablets each day.
“I am so grateful for the care I’ve received,” said Mr Warner.
“The NHS really is the best in the world.”
He said of his donor: “You can’t ever put into words how kind, generous and unselfish he and his family are for donating his heart to somebody he doesn’t know.”
Mr Warner, whose wife Annette died in 2019, returns to The Royal Papworth Hospital at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus twice per year for his post-transplant check-ups.
Dr Jayan Parameshwar, who has worked in the hospital’s transplant unit since 1991 and was at Mr Warner’s birthday celebration, said: “Ted is a perfect advert for what heart transplantation can achieve.
“He’s made full use of his extra 31 years so far, keeping busy and active even at the age of 90.
“He is an inspiration to the transplant community and beyond.”
The surgeon who performed Mr Warner’s operation, Mr Francis Wells, also attended the celebration, and it was the first time the two men had met since then.
He still performs heart operations at the hospital.
Mr Warner’s sons described their father as a “remarkable man”, adding: “We are so fortunate to have had him around for such a long time after his transplant, giving us many precious years as a family when he and mum could make more memories together and spend time with their grandchildren as they grew up.”
Anthony Clarkson, director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation at NHSBT, said: “It’s wonderful to hear that someone who benefited from a heart transplant all those years ago has reached the grand age of 90.
“It’s thanks to the generosity of the family who agreed to donate their loved one’s organs that Ted is enjoying a happy, healthy life.
“I wish him many more years of health and happiness.”
There are 77 recorded cases of heart transplant patients surviving more than 30 years, and 20 of them are Royal Papworth Hospital patients, NHSBT said.
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