meet Andy

Andy getting ready to serveAndy's HeartAndy in Action



I wanted to start this piece by thanking the selfless person that enabled me to actually be writing this. Organ donation is often a taboo subject and it’s understandable; nobody likes to talk about death, we will all live forever, right?

Coupled with this is the fact that organ donation is quite often linked to the tragic events that enable someone to donate their organs, and understandably emotions are always high in these situations. That being said, the wonderful benefit that can come from these events is amazing.

I myself feel rather fraudulent. I never had years and years of debilitating disease; I was always able to lead a very active and joyous life. I visited some great places in the world, received a good education and landed a prosperous job. Then one day when I was told, from what seemed rather an unusual request for an ultrasound scan, that my heart was very weak and enlarged. So let’s use this as the starting point, and day one of my journey. Two days later, I was told I would need medication to stabilize my “condition”, still unaware of what was really about to happen. I was admitted to a cardiac ward, feeling pretty well. I was asked a couple of times if I was okay during my time there, to which I answered that I was fine. Then on the evening of day six, I was told I had had a palpitation which was off the scale. I did not feel too bad, but was moved to an high dependency cardiac unit, a room on my own. From there I was basically bedridden. It happened so quickly; I couldn’t believe that the previous 2 days I had been walking, talking, having fun with visitors – now the doctors could hardly read my blood pressure!

Day eight came and my parents were called to come to the hospital, I was in a local hospital and they simply said they had done all they could. They knew of the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle, England, which has a heart specialist and a renown cardiothoracic department. I was immediately transferred and on arrival put on IV drips and had a balloon pump inserted in the left side of my heart. Once my condition was relatively stable, within a few hours of being there my parents were told I would need a heart transplant. It was only eight days earlier that I had attended what we all thought was a strange appointment for a scan of my heart. My heart was working at only 10% of normal capacity. I was elevated onto the European priority list for a heart; the first suitable heart would be mine. Nothing suitable came and on day ten I signed a consent form for a bi-vad, a device that basically takes over the function of your heart. Then a call came: a good, healthy match was found! It crept into the early hours of day eleven and I had received my new lease on life!! This wouldn’t have happened without someone declaring their wish to help others after their death.

I woke the next day and I have never looked back since. I relocated from my home city of Leeds, England to London, the nation’s capital. I enjoyed 2 years there where I got to work on the part of the construction of the Olympic Games. I met some amazing new friends, had a lot of fun and was able to create a professional network that enabled me to gain a transfer to Canada. I did it!! I went all out and moved countries on my own. I decided that I needed to fulfill my life, enjoy all aspects of it, learn new things, meet new people and experience different cultures. These days, I am captain of both a dodgeball and volleyball team. They are both recreational sports, nothing too strenuous. I have also had the opportunity to enter and succeed in the British, European, Canadian and World Transplant Games. These games are designed to celebrate the success of organ donation and to showcase to the world the huge benefits a yes or no answer. I feel like a new person, full of life. When you are given a second chance at life, you grasp it and make the very best of what you can!