World’s longest surviving transplant patient dies 33 years after operation

John McCafferty, from Newport Pagnell, was the longest surviving heart transplant survivor but has now died aged 73.
John McCafferty, from Newport Pagnell, was the longest surviving heart transplant survivor but has now died aged 73.

The world’s longest surviving heart transplant patient has died 33 years after his operation.

John McCafferty, of Newport Pagnell, was officially recognised by Guinness World Records in 2013 after his life-saving transplant at Harefield Hospital in west London on October 20, 1982.

He was told he only had five years to live when he received the transplant but John passed away at the age of 73 on Tuesday at Milton Keynes Hospital from sepsis and renal failure.

John’s wife Ann, 70, said: “Having been born in Scotland he had that typical Scottish determination and whenever anyone would say he couldn’t do something he would always ask ‘Why?’”

He was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, when he was 39.

John Fisher, a close friend who has lived with a heart transplant for 15 years, said: “John was a marvellous inspiration for everyone who has ever had a heart transplant.

“He lived a normal life and never let his condition slow him down.”

Ann said: “John even took part in the Transplant Games because he wanted to prove to the world that nothing could stop him.

“He and his relay team even won a gold medal in 1990.

“We travelled the world together going to Australia twice, to Disneyland in Florida and to Germany to visit friends.

“He was in hospital on my 70th birthday in July and he was upset that he couldn’t buy me a present.

“I jokingly told him, ‘Well, you haven’t bought me anything for the past 50 years so why start now?’”

John was a wood cutting machinist, the general secretary of the Defence Police Federation and later in life worked in IT.

Ann added: “He loved fishing and was a keen trout fisherman until his condition worsened.

“He was always involved in charity work raising money for Harefield Hamsters, a transplant support charity.”

The have one son Iain Cafferty, 47, and one grandson, Oliver, 20.

The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in October.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition that leads to scarring of the heart wall and damage to the muscle which causes the heart to become weakened and enlarged, preventing it from pumping efficiently.

John’s transplant was carried out by surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub.