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Pedal steel tracks are by me on my old Sho-Bud pedal steel guitar.
My name is Micky Byrne, and I had my Heart Transplant on March 9th, 1999.
After many years of incredibly bad health, as a child of 13 I had Rheumatic
Fever, then during my adult life until my heart transplant, I had undergone a triple By-pass in 1983, the removal of a Brain tumor in 1993, then a quadruple By-pass in 1996, which unfortunately went very Pear shaped. I actually had a Myocardial infarction (heart attack) on the operating table while the by-pass was being done.
This left me with a very damaged heart and I was assessed for transplantation
at Harefield Hospital in West London. The assessment took five days, and every conceivable tests were done to know if I really needed a heart transplant. I had to be sick enough to need a transplant, but strong enough to survive the operation. Every thing turned out as I had expected it to, and I was put onto the waiting list. After I was put on the transplant list, Carlton television asked me if I would allow filming of my Transplant, should a Donor come up for me whilst they were doing a Documentary of Prof Sir Magdi Yacoub the world renowned Heart transplant surgeon. As I am a real Ham, I agreed. The program was called The life saver, and was transmitted on March 22nd 2000.
On the night I got my "call" for transplant just three and a half months after being assessed, I had just demolished a couple of helpings of a curry I had made, and was just half way through Coronation Street (TV Program), when Pam Baldock (transplant coordinator) called me and said "Micky, what are you doing tonight? Fancy a new heart?" I asked how long I had to get there, and she said "A couple of hours" As my case was already packed after my assessment for transplant, it was no real rush to get ready. The next phone call was from the Carlton television team who were already parked outside my house. They knew I had a
Donor several hours before me, and were ready to rush me to Harefield hospital. When
I got there, the tests were done, The heart was good and arrived early, so
it left no time for a pre-med. I was actually in the toilet (as one would expect), when I heard Dr Gavin Wright, the consultant Anesthetist calling out to me to get a "move on" as they had to get me pronto into the operating theatre. I'm glad I had brown trousers on!! I met the Prof just before they put me out, and to meet him for the 1st time, knowing he was the best in the world, It was to me, like meeting God.
The operation took seven hours, and I recollect so well that they put me to sleep at 11.45 PM.
When I awoke some thirty-six hours later (they kept me asleep for safety reasons), I remember one of the transplant coordinator's Tracey Jackson saying to me "Micky you have the heart of a thirty nine year old man from Salisbury, and his family have just telephoned us to find out how you are doing". I then drifted back to sleep. As soon as I was moved from Intensive care unit to my own room, I was astounded at how quick the exercise program began, first with a pedal bike in the room, and then regular walks with Lorraine one of the Physiotherapist who started me on the "stair climbing" program. Within a couple of days I was able to do a double flight of stairs, compared to prior Transplant, when I found it hard to walk just a few yards, and even had difficulty in holding a conversation before getting out of breath. Such was the noticeable difference to me in getting a new heart.
Everything went fine, with the exception of some damage to my vocal chords, which does "occasionally" happen during transplantation because of the "breathing pipe" accidentally catching the vocal chords, and I was afraid it might have jeopardized my career as a singer musician. I was home in just seventeen days, and I thank God, that to date (over 18 years), I have not experienced any rejection.
Within four months my voice had returned, I moved house two months later, and very soon after that, I resumed my career as a musician. I thank the Prof, all his team and the great staff at Harefield hospital for giving me a new lease of life, and allowing my wife Julie to have some peace of mind after all the worries she has had over the years about my health.
About 20 months after my transplant, I received a large envelope from the transplant hospital, containing two letters. I knew that this was what I had been waiting for for some considerable time. They were letters from my Donor's family. One was from his wife and the other was from his parents. I learned so very much about the man whose heart was now keeping me alive. He was a computer systems analyst and his name was Jonathan. He played the violin and piano and loved Classical music. Golf was his main interest in sports. He was also involved in amateur dramatics and was in the process of writing a novel. There is too much about him to be put on this page, but I know that by just reading the letters that he was a good husband, son and father, and was being very deeply missed. I just thank the family as it was their joint decision to donate his organs after his tragic car accident, and in so doing have saved me and many others.
I hope you have found it interesting reading my story, and if any of you readers are awaiting a transplant, please go for it when the day arrives, there certainly is light at the end of the dark tunnel.
Hope you enjoyed my story.
Keep well, keep taking the pills.
Best wishes to you all.