My transplant journey began in late 2009, when I started getting breathless playing squash, cycling and eventually, even when simply climbing stairs. An ECG led to a referral to my local cardiology department. After a couple of appointments, I was referred again to The Heart Hospital in Marylebone and was told to: “Never, ever set foot on a squash court again.”

Still without a diagnosis, I had a defibrillator/pacemaker (ICD) fitted during a three-week admission in April 2010, which could send electrical pulses to regulate my heartbeat and shocks in case of cardiac arrest. I thought that the worst was over, little did I know!

Soon after the procedure, a diagnosis of cardiac sarcoidosis and heart failure followed. The next seven years were filled with consultations, scans, steroid infusions, hundreds of prescriptions, and a painstakingly slow deterioration. I recall, in particular, a life-saving shock from my ICD whilst travelling on a bus and regaining consciousness lying in another passenger’s lap!

In late 2017, I was told that the time had come for referral to the Transplant Team at Harefield. Arriving at the hospital and seeing the words “TRANSPLANT CLINIC” above the reception desk was a particularly scary moment. How had it come to this? But following that initial moment of fear, I felt completely reassured by all the staff at Harefield. I felt incredibly lucky to be in such safe hands.

A “right heart catheter” test that measured how my blood was pumping, confirmed the need for transplant and I was sent home to lose 10kg.

Just after the “Beast from the East” had passed through the UK in early 2018, I got a bed in Harefield Hospital where I would be waiting for my new heart to arrive.

Following a transplant offer that wasn’t feasible a few days earlier, I received my heart on Friday 13 April 2018. Less than five weeks later, I was back at home and able to enjoy the comfort of my own bed ... and some home cooking.

I began to feel a whole lot better very, very quickly, and in July started some gentle cycling again (before I had completed my rehab sessions) and rapidly continued to improve. I could not believe my luck.

In early 2019, I began to take my cycling much more seriously and then, in Jan 2020, staff at Harefield agreed that I could begin playing squash again. It was like all my birthdays and Christmases rolled into one.

Now, in addition to lots of cycling, I am playing squash three or four times a week at my local club. I was one of the Harefield Athletes at the 2022 British Transplant Games, achieving a silver medal at squash and have now been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Perth, Australia in April 2023. I can hardly wait.

I simply could not have done any of this on my own and I have lots and lots of people and groups to thank. My beautiful wife Sara, my two boys Mike and Nick, my close friends, my donor and donor family of course, and all of the medical professionals (too many to name) who have been, and continue to be, so kind, supportive and helpful throughout the years. It is this last group that I wish to help in particular.

Those of you that are familiar with Harefield Hospital will know what a special and unique place it is. I never get tired of returning for appointments.

For those of you that don’t know, Harefield Hospital is a world leader in heart and lung transplants and is at the leading edge of the latest research and technology. Without them, thousands of people, including me, wouldn’t be here today.

So today, using my selection to the GB team as a catalyst, I am respectfully asking that you join me in thanking Harefield by donating to Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity. I know that we live in challenging times, and that every penny or pound is precious, but if you can spare even a small amount it would be most gratefully received and will go towards helping those who follow me in needing lifesaving research and surgery.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and thank you so much for your contribution.

We want to wish John the very best of luck for the World Transplant Games this April. Donate to John's fundraising page via the button below

Donate to John's Transplant Games Fundraiser