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Harefield heart transplant patient is world record breaker

24 December 2013

Harefield Hospital patient, John McCafferty, has been officially recognised as the world’s longest surviving heart transplant patient by Guinness World Records.

John, 71, from Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, surpassed the previous record of 30 years, 11 months and 10 days, set by American Tony Huesman, who died in 2009. Now over 31 years since his successful transplant was carried out at Harefield Hospital, John hopes his world record achievement can be an inspiration to other transplant patients.

“At the time of my heart transplant I was told that I might expect to live for another five years if the procedure was a success. The idea that I would live to see my seventies was inconceivable. Yet here I am!

“I want this world record to be an inspiration to anyone awaiting a heart transplant and to those who, like me, have been fortunate enough to have had one. My advice is always to be hopeful, to look ahead with a positive mind, and, of course, to follow the expert medical advice.”

John received his new heart on 20 October 1982, in a procedure carried out by world-renowned surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub, having been diagnosed, aged 39, with dilated cardiomyopathy – one of the most common causes of heart failure. The condition often has a genetic cause and leads to scarring of the heart wall and damage to the muscle. This causes the heart to become weakened and enlarged, preventing it from pumping efficiently.

A passionate supporter of organ donation, John was determined to make the most of his new heart by living life to the full. Over the years he has followed the advice of his doctors and kept himself fit and healthy – even travelling across the UK and Europe to compete in 11 Transplant Games.

“It was important to me to prove that life doesn’t stop at transplantation and to have a fitness regime to follow. Most importantly, I wanted to promote organ donation at every opportunity.

“I will always be indebted to my donor and to a family who I have never met. They have given me a life with my family – one which I could never have had without their gift.”

Mr André Simon, director of transplantation at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“John’s achievement is remarkable and shows just what can be gained through transplantation. The fact that he has become a world record holder should act as motivation to those awaiting life-saving transplants and to those who have received the gift of a new organ.

“John’s long and active life post-transplant can be attributed to a combination of his determination to follow a healthy lifestyle and to his excellent ongoing medical care. And, of course, he has needed a little bit of luck along the way.”

Even in retirement John remains an active member of the transplant community. He splits his time between various roles after being elected to the position of public governor of Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust; acting as secretary of the Harefield Re-beat Club, and serving as an active committee member of the Harefield Transplant Club.

For further information, please contact:
Mark Fenwick
Head of media relations
Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust
Tel: 020 7351 8672  
Mobile: 07866 536 345
Email: m.fenwick@rbht.nhs.uk

Royal Brompton

Sydney Street,
London SW3 6NP
Tel: +44 (0)20 7352 8121


Read our article about last year's celebrations for John's 30th anniversary