A MAN who had a heart transplant after 97 per cent of his heart stopped working has praised the ‘opt out’ transplant system which will come into effect next month.

Trevor Dixon, now 65, underwent a five-hour heart transplant in November 2013 after multiple heart attacks left him with the use of only three per cent of his heart. Once an avid squash and golf player, Trevor became reliant on a pace maker which would restart his heart multiple times when his own failed.

His damaged heart made Trevor constantly tired and even had an impact upon his kidneys which also began failing.

Doctors placed Trevor on the transplant waiting list which Trevor described as ‘agonising’.

“I was at Wythenshawe Heart and Lung Transplant Unit in Manchester and every time the helicopter came with organs, I was just praying that it was coming to bring me a new heart,” said Trevor, of Cubley Brook, Penistone.

“People think that when you need a new organ doctors can pluck one from a shelf, you have an operation, and off you go. In reality there are a lot of factors like size of the organ, blood type, and quality of the organ that can affect whether it would be a good match for the patient - and even then the body can reject the new organ.”

Trevor was in a coma for a week following the operation and had to learn how to speak and walk again during his recovery. Now, six years on, he is still grateful for his heart and believes that the new ‘opt out’ transplant system will help more people to have a second chance at life.

“There were four of us on the ward when I was in hospital,” said Trevor. “Out of the four, three of us got a new heart. On top of that there are only five heart transplant hospitals in the country and they only perform about 25 operations per year so there are still hundreds and thousands of people waiting for a new heart.

“I think the new ‘opt out’ system is a great idea because it will mean that more people could get a transplant. I know this means that people will die but they have the chance to help other people to live and are giving something back.

“I think it will make more people aware of organ donation rather than pushing it to the side for people to forget about. Even though that person is gone, a part of them still lives on in another person. I keep my heart alive and in return it keeps me alive.”

For more information about the new ‘opt out’ system visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website under the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) tab.