Aaron’s story – heartfelt thanks from a grandfather

Aaron’s story – heartfelt thanks from a grandfather
Aaron’s story – heartfelt thanks from a grandfather

My name Aaron, I’m 28 years old and a heart transplant recipient from Perth WA.

Late in 2020, I became unexpectedly diagnosed with severe idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle that causes the heart cavity to become stretched and enlarged, and the pumping capacity of the heart is reduced). This resulted in up in 3 months of treatment for end stage heart failure. Before this I was quite active, riding my bicycle regularly and previously having raced at amateur level events and junior nationals in my teens. I was young, seemingly fit, and active for my age, so I thought the prospect of a heart transplant was unthinkable.

My journey to heart transplant happened in an incredibly short space of time, 4 months. I was getting excited to become a dad for the first time when I was told that I had end stage heart failure; and then my son Oliver was born 3 days later. Immediately not knowing if I would get the opportunity to see him grow up at all; in addition to not spending a future with him and my wife of 2 years was a nightmare made into my reality.

Then, after many weeks of battling to come to terms with this distressing situation along with my extended but close-knit family and friends, my phone rang, and I will never forget what I heard next: "Aaron, we have found you a heart". That heart transplant saved my live and everything in it that I love the most - my son, my wife and my family. It is all because of the gift from my donor hero and their family who had made the decision to say yes to organ donation; and for that I am so very eternally grateful to say the least.

Fast forward a year post-transplant - I even must pinch myself sometimes and realise what a new heart has been able to do for me. I'm back cycling for fitness, going to the gym as normal, working full time and enjoying life again; but most importantly I have been able to see my son walk for the first time, say his first words, hear 'dadda' everyday, see his smile light up the room and share the joys with my wife, mum, dad, sister, grandfather and many others.

I will live every day in gratitude to the gift my donor and their family's organ donation decision gave me, also getting involved in what I can to raise awareness of the beauty a gift like that can give to someone who desperately needs it. I also believe that by living my life to the fullest and staying fit, active and healthy; I can share with others how the gift of life can truly benefit an individual in the same circumstance as me, both before and after transplant.

Letter of thanks from Aaron’s grandfather

My name is Derek, and I am the grandad of Aaron, who is the recipient of a heart transplant.

Aaron was a very active and very fit young man. His interest was in cycle racing and other sports.  My wife Irene (who passed away 7 years ago) and I were very involved in his growing up and love him dearly. He always did his best at whatever challenged him.

Late last year, Aaron was diagnosed with heart failure and was given only a short time to live (a few months). It was beyond belief that this could suddenly happen to such a fit young man. This was devastating news to Aaron and all the family. We were sick with worry. The only option was a heart transplant and the possibility that a donated heart may not be available in the time he had left was frightening.

Relief came in the generosity of a donor; a stranger Aaron will never know who is owed so much. Sadly, we know that person would have passed away leaving another distraught family.

We as a family will be forever indebted and be so grateful to the family and the person to have made the decision to be an organ donor.

All is going well with Aaron, and he is looking forward to enjoying life with his family after a very traumatic time which he will never forget.

THANK YOU to Aaron’s organ donor… if it wasn’t for your generous gift, this would have been a very different story. You saved my grandson’s life.

Watch Derek's video message.

Video file