A 71-year-old city man has been officially recognised as the world’s longest surviving heart transplant patient by Guinness World Records.
John McCafferty, who lives in Newport Pagnell, surpassed the previous world record of 30 years, 11 months and 10 days, set by American Tony Huesman, who died in 2009.
Now over 31 years since his successful heart transplant was carried out at Harefield Hospital in London, John says he wants his achievement to prove an inspiration to other transplant patients.
“At the time of my heart transplant I was told I might expect to live for another five years if the procedure was a success,” he said. “The idea that I would live to see my 70s was inconceivable. Yet here I am!
“I want this world record to be an inspiration to anyone awaiting a heart transplant and to those who, like me, have been fortunate enough to have had one. My advice is always to be hopeful, to look ahead with a positive mind, and, of course, to follow the expert medical advice.”
John received his new heart on October 20, 1982, having been diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy – one of the most common causes of heart failure – at the age of 39.
The condition often has a genetic cause and leads to scarring of the heart wall and damage to the muscle. This causes the heart to become weakened and enlarged, preventing it from pumping efficiently.
A passionate supporter of organ donation, John was determined to make the most of his new heart by living life to the full. Over the years he has followed the advice of his doctors and kept himself fit and healthy – even travelling across the UK and Europe to compete in 11 Transplant Games competitions.
“It was important to me to prove that life doesn’t stop at transplantation and to have a fitness regime to follow,” said John. “Most importantly, I wanted to promote organ donation at every opportunity.
“I will always be indebted to my donor and to a family who I have never met. They have given me a life with my family – one which I could never have had without their gift.”
André Simon, director of transplantation at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This achievement is remarkable. It shows just what can be gained through transplantation.
“The fact that he has become a world record holder should act as motivation to those awaiting life-saving transplants and to those who have received the gift of a new organ.
“John’s long and active life post-transplant can be attributed to a combination of his determination to follow a healthy lifestyle and to his excellent ongoing medical care.
“And, of course, he has needed a little bit of luck along the way.”