Wednesday 8 May 2022: Mr Stephen Kee speaking about his heart transplant
In his own words:
I am a 58-year-old Husband and Father from Omagh who earns a living through worldwide trading in construction equipment and components. In 2013 I suffered Heart Failure by a mystery virus and had an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator or ICD fitted to regulate my heart rhythm and provide a shock if needed. Shortly after surgery I was discharged and enjoyed a good recovery returning to near normal physical activities and everyday life.
Almost 30 months later in 2016 I was unfortunately again attacked by the virus and deteriorated rapidly in the early summer of that year. One Wednesday in June I went to my GP for a check-up, and he noted my levels were low and I presented with blue lips and other symptoms of advanced Heart Failure. He contacted my Cardiac Nurse and put the wheels in motion for me to be admitted to hospital 5 days later for observation.
Shortly after I was admitted my Cardiologist determined I had end stage Heart Failure and stated there was nothing more could be done for me in his hospital. I was told to get my affairs in order, and he would continue efforts to have me admitted to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Days later I was taken by air ambulance to The Freeman and urgently rushed through Transplant Assessment.
Later that week I was deemed suitable for Transplant and placed on the top of the UK Transplant List. At this stage my life was being measured in days rather than weeks or months but I was on the list and in the Freeman so I felt I had a chance! One warm Wednesday afternoon with only days to live and exactly 4 weeks after my GP had put the wheels in motion, I was told there was a potential organ on the way and to get ready for theatre!
I presented one of Europe’s most experienced transplant teams with some of their greatest ever challenges and spent nearly 30 hours over the next 5 days in theatre as they battled to give me the gift of life. Some 10 days later I was still alive and extremely confused but fighting and began 9 months of recovery.
They taught me how to grip a cup, swallow, stand and then walk. In 6 weeks I was discharged to a flat close to hospital and spent another 6 weeks there with daily clinics and yet more surgery on wounds before being discharged and returning home. I now visit The Freeman for clinic every 12 weeks and follow a strict medication regime but lead a meaningful life with objectives which include “Plan for the worst but Hope for the best”
The reason I write these words is due to the courage of my Donor and the power of Organ Donation.
Stephen J Kee