Home Heart Transplant Heart transplant gives John a second chance of life

Heart transplant gives John a second chance of life

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John after his transplant
John Brennan with his wife Claire and children Lauren and Shaun on a family holiday earlier this year
  • Heart transplant gives John a second chance of life

    Independent.ie

    Dundalk man John Brennan is so grateful for the 'life changing' gift of a heart transplant that he is appealing for people to carry organ donation cards.

    https://www.independent.ie/regionals/argus/news/heart-transplant-gives-john-a-second-chance-of-life-37446126.html

    https://www.independent.ie/regionals/argus/news/article37446125.ece/f2a0a/AUTOCROP/h342/2018-10-23_the_45117473_I2.JPG

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Dundalk man John Brennan is so grateful for the 'life changing' gift of a heart transplant that he is appealing for people to carry organ donation cards.

The 37 year old father shared 'before and after' photos on his Facebook page as he wants to raise awareness about organ donation.

'You can see from the photos how my life has changed from one of extreme hardship to complete joy,' he wrote in a post which has been 'liked' a thousand times.

'I am extremely grateful to my donor and their family for whom I'll never forget and will bring with me on my journey. They have given me a second chance of life, as I'll now be able to see my kids grow up and be able to enjoy all the special moments along the way.'

John, who lives in Tallanstown with his wife Claire and their children Lauren and Shaun, was born with a heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which was diagnosed when he was twelve years of age.

'It's a defective gene in the heart which means that the heart doesn't stop growing,' he explains. 'By the time I got the transplant, it was twice the size it should have been.'

John was told he would have to stop playing sport when he was twenty, and reluctantly hung up his boots, having played with Na Piarsaigh and Glenmuir United.

His mother, who also had the condition, was only 48 when she died, so John realised that he had to listen to the advice of his doctors.

'I had an ICD, an internal cardiac defibrillator, fitted, and it wasn't until I was in my late twenties that it began to affect me.'

Meanwhile, John, who worked an assistant manager in Tesco, Artane, got married to Claire and they moved to Tallanstown as they wanted to live in the country.

'It was all good. I was working and we were living a normal family life,' he recalls.

The couple had two children and John began working for the Largo Foods in Ashbourne.

Then in 2015 he was struck down with serious pneumonia and sepsis and spent three weeks in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, including eight days on life support.

'It was really touch and go,' he recalls of the incident which marked the start of a deterioration in his health and quality of life.

Since then, he was hospitalised eleven times and also suffered two suspected TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) which led to him losing power on the left hand side of his body.

'I had a lot of health issues in the last three years and it really took its toll on my body and my heart.'

'I got an infection in early July and ended up in hospital,' he says. Again he developed sepsis and was transferred to the Mater Hospital in mid-July and was put on the transplant list.

Having been in hospital for ten weeks, he was allowed home to spend a day with his family.

'It was very emotional as I had only seen them at the weekends,' he recalls.

As he was returning to hospital that evening, he remarked to his brother that he thought he would get the transplant quite soon.

He was just settled back in the Intensive Care Unit when he was told that a heart had become available which might suit him as it was the right blood type.

After all the tests were carried out, the heart was confirmed as a perfect match and John was told that the transplant would go ahead.

'Normally people sleep for three to four days afterwards, but I told my wife that I would wake up the next day as it was her birthday.'

True to his word, John woke up the following day and surprised staff by sitting up and eating breakfast.

It was the best birthday surprise for Claire as she and her husband celebrated him getting a second chance of life.

Three weeks after the transplant, John returned home and is continuing to recover.

'I have to be very careful that I don't get an infection as I'm on immune suppressants so that I don't reject the heart,' he says. 'I can't be in crowds. I can't go to Mass, to restaurants or pubs etc because if I pick up an infection it could kill me.'

John is hugely appreciative of getting a second chance of life.

'When I was in hospital waiting for the transplant, I saw first hand the good stories of people who had transplants, but I also saw people pass away while waiting for a transplant. I saw people being sent home as their condition had worsened while they were waiting for a heart and they were too ill to have a transplant operation.'

'I want to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and to encourage people to carry an organ donor card.'

The Argus

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