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James – heart recipient, VIC

A photo of James
My full-time job was staying well so that when the phone call did come, I’d be ready

An irregular heartbeat that would leave him feeling weak and exhausted suddenly became a part of James’s daily life when in his mid-twenties.

“It was like having a drummer inside my chest who didn’t know how to keep a beat,” James said.

“I was essentially running a marathon lying in bed all day, it was absolutely exhausting.”
James was eventually diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy, which became heart failure, a heart condition which sadly his grandfather and uncle passed away from.

James described the months following diagnosis and being waitlisted for a heart transplant as a “crazy time” filled with appointments and physical preparation.

“My full-time job became staying well enough so that when the phone call did come, I’d be ready to go,” he said.

“It’s the kind of experience where you know where your phone is all the time. You know how much charge you have left in your phone; you know where the charger is, you know if you’re heading out of range. You don’t turn it off and you don’t put it on silent. I needed to make sure I was going to get that call.”

James said waking up in hospital after receiving his heart transplant was peculiar because he couldn’t feel his heart.

“For so long I’d had this irregular heartbeat and a heart that didn’t work properly, and I could physically feel that. I’d forgotten that it’s normal to not know your heart is in there,” he said.

“Thank you is not enough for my organ donor and their family. I want them to know how happy and how well I’m doing, and hope that they are proud of the decision that they made.”

Kathy Heagney
Graphic of native plants

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