Chris developed cardiomyopathy at the age of 17 and although his heart was damaged, he was able to work and generally have a near-normal life. However, 7 years later, in 2009, he began to deteriorate. 

Chris was offered the choice between a Berlin Heart, a mechanical heart that sits outside the body and requires hospital stay until a heart could be found for transplant, or an LVAD (a left ventricular assist device) that could keep him stable at home. He was told that the latter would most likely mean his wait for a heart would take years, rather than days, but that there would be a slight chance of his own heart recovering. He chose to hope for his own heart to heal.  

The LVAD implantation had to be done at Harefield Hospital, so he was transported from Birmingham and arrived in agony. His heart was struggling but thankfully the team that greeted him made sure his pain was managed immediately, and on that same night, the surgery went ahead. It was even debated whether he needed an RVAD as well as the LVAD so both sides of his heart were supported. Luckily that wasn't the case.  

The amount of support, excellent care and competence shown by the nurses dedicated to him was incredible. Nothing was ever too much. Chris remained under the care of the VAD-Team for 7 years until his transplant would finally be underway.  

I met Chris in 2010. I lived in Denmark at the time, so we maintained a long-distance relationship for four years until I finally moved. Two years later, in 2016, things took a drastic turn. We had been out for a meal to celebrate my birthday. I remember wishing for a transplant for Chris as I was blowing out my birthday candle, but before we had even digested that meal, we were sitting in an ambulance. We were rushed to Harefield as the LVAD had started alerting us that something was seriously wrong. Chris looked at me and went, “What the hell did you wish for!?” I wouldn't tell him.  

What followed were 6 months of waiting for a heart, after being promoted to the urgent list, and on August 15th, 2016, it finally happened.  

Chris was in ICU for a total of 24 days and I will be forever thankful for the fact that he remembers very little of it. Bumps in the road here and there meant that it was difficult to get him off the respirator, and in the end, he had a tracheostomy. Communication was brutally difficult.  

I'm including a special thanks here, to the ICU nurses. Over those difficult 24 days, I saw you washing and combing Chris' long hair with such tenderness, it nearly brought me to tears. You comforted me when I broke down after not being able to understand what Chris was trying to tell me through the tracheostomy. One day, a nurse had even written the Danish word for “Hello” on a whiteboard, to greet me when Chris was able to speak and tell the nurse to write in my native language. Above and beyond.  

This same attention and loving care was given later on the HDU ward. The lady who served all of Chris' meals even slipped me food through winks and a hushed voice, telling me to eat.  

We will both be forever thankful to Chris' surgeons, consultants, the VAD-Team, the ICU staff, the HDU teams at Rowan and Fir Tree wards, the porters, domestics and HCA's. Harefield set a standard against which we measure all other hospitals we have come in contact with and nothing even comes close to that level of care, competence and attention we received. The highest honour goes to David. Chris' donor. Without you, we wouldn't dare to dream.  

Inspired by the care our cardiology teams at Harefield afford each and every patient? You can donate to help us buy state-of-the-art equipment to support their work. Find out more about our Lifeline Lab Appeal