I became aware that I had a problem in early December 2017, breathless, lack of energy, finding it hard to walk, massive weight gain, not sleeping, I felt terrible.

I previously had heart problems, I kept having small blackouts and in 2013 I had my first pacemaker implanted due to heart block. A second pacemaker, replaced the first in 2016, an upgrade due to an uneven heartbeat, but now this was different.

I visited my GP on the 27th December, he examined me and sent me straight to Epsom Hospital A&E, this turned out for myself, wife, son, family and friends, the start of our journey to Harefield Hospital.

After numerous visits back to A&E, my GP got an appointment for me to see Dr Karr at Epsom Hospital who was a chest and lung consultant. Dr Karr examined me, I was carrying at least 10 litres of excess fluid, an urgent PET-CT Scan at The Royal Marsden in Sutton was organised. The results of the scan suggested I may have sarcoidosis, this was bad news. Sarcoidosis can be caused by having chest infections which I have had frequently over the previous years.

Dr Karr phoned me at home early on the 9th February to get into hospital urgently. I was admitted into Epsom Hospital and two days later I had an echocardiogram. Dr Burkenshaw gave me my diagnosis, I had a faulty pump, leaking valve and a large blood clot in my heart, really bad news.

I was in and out of Epsom Hospital CCU Ward, a heart transplant was talked about but getting to Harefield seemed a long way off. It was on my fourth admission into Epsom Hospital and after a few days in there the words I had been waiting for, a transfer to Harefield Hospital was being arranged. So on Sunday 20th May, I was on my way by ambulance, what a relief. By this time I had spent 58 days in Epsom Hospital, they had been so good kind and caring to me.

My first ward was Rowan, a bit of a shock after the peace and quiet of Epsom. That evening at Harefield the first consultant who examined me was Dr J Cannon, a lovely lady from Glasgow. I was immediately put onto a milarone infusion, replacing the dobutamine that I was on in Epsom. A few days later the team leader consultant Dr O Dar, a fine man from Liverpool informed me that I would undergo tests to see if I was suitable for a transplant, this would take a couple of weeks. I then went up to Fir Tree Ward, so much quieter than Rowan. After nineteen days at Harefield, I was sent to Royal Brompton for an overnight stay for a further PET-CT Scan to see what the sarcoid was doing and if it was still in my lungs. But when I arrived there the scanner had broken down. Whilst there, an MRI scan was also done and after a pleasant, by now a week in the Brompton, including a flypast by the RAF and the Red Arrows, I was off back to Harefield.

I was by now settling in quite well at Harefield and the long hot summer was just kicking in. The tests finally took six weeks, I was now put on the transplant list, a high moment at the time. Consultant Dr V Baston a lovely lady from Madrid and consultant Dr F Riesgo Gil, a gent from Fulham - were also now looking after me.

The weather by was getting hotter and being on a fluid intake restriction of one and a half litres a day was very tough, I did fall off the wagon a couple of times, but it was nearly thirty degrees at night. My lowest point was about to arrive. After being on the transplant list for just six days I had a routine CT scan, it came up with a problem with my liver, it was showing signs of cirrhosis, if so the transplant could be cancelled. Dr Cannon immediately arranged for a biopsy at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead for me. This was the lowest point for myself and wife. Early the next morning I was off to North London by ambulance. The biopsy was done by lunchtime and back to Harefield by three thirty, fantastic service, now for the results. Being a Friday the biopsy results were not due back until early the following week, it was looking like a long weekend waiting, but the lab at the Royal Free had pulled all the stops out. Dr Shanmuganathan a fellow football fan and Dr Cannon came to see me in the evening, the results were back and they were negative for cirrhosis, what a relief, now back on the transplant list.

Three days later I was woken at 5.15am my first offer of a transplant, that was quick. This is when you first get to meet the Transplant coordination team, Mary, Tom, Jennie and Collette and the amazing work they do, all systems go. Telephoned my wife with the news, she rushed to Harefield, a long day waiting, but by the evening it was called off. A big disappointment, but my day would come.

Pizzagate: In early June I fancied a pizza, Dr A Morley-Smith a happy chap from Wandsworth was the Doctor on Fir Tree Ward. A nice chap but he had become aware I had made a pizza delivery, I and the nurses had one pizza each. The next morning he was not very pleased with my choice, he gave me a verbal clip around the ear. He informed me that a pizza has more salt in it than the Pacific Ocean, that’s a lot of salt, no more pizza for me, back to hospital food.

By now the World Cup was on, which I enjoyed watching with the other patients. England matches brought in a good crowd into the TV room, standing room only if you didn’t get there early enough. It brought us all closer together, lots of cheering and shouting from very sick patients. The biggest worry during the match was if your infusion ran out, but the nurses were always at the back, waiting for the alarm to go off.

I was feeling fine, had a go at watercolour painting, listing to plenty of music, watching the test cricket on TV with Dr Dru Dhar and a couple of cricket loving nurses, it was like being on a holiday, sunny days, lots of visitors, but just happened to be waiting for a heart transplant.

On the 13th August, I got my second offer of a transplant, it was also my 30th Wedding Anniversary, a lovely day with my fantastic wife, but later in the day it was cancelled, no champagne, but that can wait for another day.

By the end of the same week, my body started to reject the milarone infusion, I was going downhill fast. I was transferred back down to Rowan Ward, leaving behind room 15, my little home in Fir Tree for the last three months, I had gathered so much stuff removal women were needed. It was not looking good, after a few days in Rowan I was transferred onto ITU. Consultant Dr A Hurtado and her fine team, including Dr Rita, another lovely lady from Northern Spain was looking after for me. I was put into room 4, on my own. I was by now really very poorly, then on the 30th August, my third offer, a heart was ready. Third time lucky I hoped. As the day drifted by I was not expecting it to happen after the last two disappointments, but the transplant coordinator was seeing me more frequently this time, paperwork all signed, it was going ahead. I said goodbye to my wife and son at seven thirty that evening. Surgeon Mr Fabio de Robertis, a brilliant man from Italy, was waiting for me with his team in the operating theatre and seven hours later it was over, it all went very well.

I woke up two days later and when my wife walked into room 4 in ITU I gave her the shock of her life, I was sitting up and talking. My wife and son had been staying at a nearby hotel for 48 hours, and seen me unconscious, so to see me so well it was all too overwhelming for her, my son and me. I could not believe I’d had the operation, no pain, none at all. I kept asking my wife if it had really happened. I remember Dr Cannon seeing me the same day, but I was then sedated, delirium had set in.

After two weeks of being in and out of consciousness, it was time to start moving and rehabilitation. I did not realise how much muscle strength you can lose being in bed for over four weeks. Susan a lovely lady from the rehab team was coaxing me to stand up, it was so tough, but she got me moving. Thirteen days after my operation I went back to Rowan Ward and testing my new heart continued. Susan and the nurses really got me moving about with a walking frame along the corridor. I was soon getting nearer and nearer to the swing doors and to the outside world and home.

After three weeks in Rowan, I was now able to walk and get around unaided, I was moved back up to Fir Tree Ward, on the last leg before I could go home.

The big day had now arrived, it’s the 9th October 2018 and after 201 days in many hospital beds, I was now being discharged and going home to my lovely wife, son and our dog Murphy who hadn’t seen me for seven months.

I will be forever grateful to the donor and family, what a gift they gave to me.

To Epsom, St Helier, The Royal Free, The Royal Marsden, Royal Brompton, they are were all great.

But it’s at the brilliant Harefield Hospital where the compassion, the care and the love and treatment from all the surgeons, consultants, doctors, nurse and all the staff gave me, was world-class, what a fantastic hospital.

It’s now April 2019, I still cannot believe what has happened to me a, 62-year-old man in just over a year. I’ve been home for just over six months feeling great getting fitter and stronger and lots of walks with Murphy.

What a journey for us all, Harefield Hospital, thank you.

I had donations given to me for birthday in December, my son is running the Royal Parks Half Marathon, and on the first anniversary in August of my operation, we are having a fundraising party all for Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity.

Terry, Deborah and Joseph Hogan.