Obituary: Sir Sean Connery, the definitive James Bond

Remembering the extraordinary life of the legendary Scottish actor, who has died at the age of 90.

Sir Sean Connery in the 1964 Bond film Goldfinger. Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
Sir Sean Connery in the 1964 Bond film Goldfinger.

He enjoyed a long and varied film career spanning 50 years, but Sir Sean Connery will undoubtedly be remembered as the first – and some say definitive – James Bond.

His performance in Dr No in 1962 set the jobbing actor and former milkman on a path that would lead to Hollywood stardom and all its trappings.

Roles in Highlander, The Untouchables and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade helped seal his position as one of Britain’s best-loved stars, and his brooding good looks and distinct Scottish brogue won him legions of fans worldwide.

Hulton Archive via Getty Images
Sir Sean as Bond in the 1963 film From Russia with Love.

Connery never lost his much-imitated accent despite his many years living abroad. From his home in the Bahamas, he remained a fervent supporter of independence for Scotland.

ADVERT

Thomas Sean Connery was born in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh, on August 25, 1930. The elder of two boys, he left school at an early age and took his first job as a milkman, complete with horse-drawn cart.

At 16, he enlisted in the Royal Navy but was discharged three years later on medical grounds after suffering with a stomach ulcer.

He has two tattoos from this time – one reading “Mum and Dad” and another “Scotland Forever”.

The keen bodybuilder then undertook a variety of jobs, including a stint as a bricklayer, a lifeguard and an artist’s model for the Edinburgh College of Art. Under the name Thom Connery, he was placed third in the tall man’s division (he was 6ft 2in) of the 1950 Mr Universe contest.

ADVERT

The stage came calling when a friend suggested he try out for a production of South Pacific. He got a part in the sailors’ chorus and so began his acting career.

He was also a gifted footballer. While touring with the musical, he was offered a contract by former Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby, who saw him play in a friendly against a local side.

His first major acting credit came in 1957 British gangster film No Road Back.

It was author Ian Fleming’s suave and sophisticated secret service agent that launched Connery to stardom.

Fleming was initially resistant to the idea of Connery playing his character. He thought the Scot was an “overgrown stuntman” who was not refined enough for the role.

Paramount via Getty Images
In a scene from the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

He was later so impressed with his performance that he created a Scottish ancestry for the character in his subsequent books.

Connery played Bond in seven films – Dr No (1962), From Russia With Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and Never Say Never Again (1983).

ADVERT

He quit the role after You Only Live Twice, frustrated by the repetitive plots, but was enticed back after his successor George Lazenby failed to make the grade.

Most of his subsequent successes were as part of ensemble casts, in films such as The Man Who Would Be King, Murder On The Orient Express and A Bridge Too Far.

In the 1980s a slipping career was revived with The Untouchables (1987), with his role as a tough gangbusting Irish policeman winning him an Academy Award for best supporting actor. Future Oscar winners Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington were also nominated in the category that year.

He is also fondly remembered for his part two years later as the father of Harrison Ford’s whip-cracking hero in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, the third instalment in the hugely popular franchise.

Connery could by now command massive fees and gained a reputation as a ruthless contract negotiator. He hated the idea of being manipulated by the film industry and was regularly embroiled in lawsuits.

In 1989, the US magazine People voted him Sexiest Man Alive, to which the 59-year-old replied: “Well, there aren’t many sexy dead men, are there?”

The 1990s brought performances in The Hunt For Red October (1990), Dragonheart (1996) and Entrapment, the 1999 love story/thriller with Catherine Zeta-Jones, which Connery also produced.

By now he was firmly regarded as an elder statesman of the film industry and in 2000 was knighted by the Queen – an honour said to have been delayed by his vocal support for the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Connery, once voted the “greatest living Scot”, received the American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, when he confirmed his retirement from acting.

Throughout his career he remained relatively guarded about his private life but was forced to deny claims of domestic abuse made by his first wife, the Australian actress Diane Cilento, before her death in 2011.

He was plagued by criticism of remarks he allegedly made in a Vanity Fair interview in 1993 when he suggested there were women who “want a smack”.

Connery was reported as saying: “There are women who take it to the wire. That’s what they are looking for, the ultimate confrontation.”

Evan Agostini via Getty Images
Sir Sean with wife Micheline Roquebrune and then-First Minister Jack McConnell during the 2004 Tartan Week in New York.

He and Cilento were married for 11 years and had one son, the actor Jason Connery.

Connery is survived by Jason and his second wife, French artist Micheline Roquebrune, whom he married in 1975 and who regularly accompanied him on the red carpet.

In 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Edinburgh Napier University for the achievements throughout his career.

He appeared relaxed and in good health during his last public appearance, when he turned out to support fellow Scotsman Andy Murray at the US Open in September 2012.

The tennis star was shocked when Connery and Sir Alex Ferguson gatecrashed a post-match press conference in New York and posed for pictures with him and his mother Judy.

Matthew Stockman via Getty Images
Sir Sean was a big tennis fan and was often seen at Andy Murray matches.

As one of the most high-profile supporters of Scottish independence, many expected Connery to make an appearance on the campaign trail in the run-up to the historic vote on September 18, 2014.

His words were used to galvanise support at the launch of the Yes campaign two years previously, when the star declared in a message: “The people of Scotland are the best guardians of their own future.”

The death of the 90-year-old was confirmed by his family on Saturday.


Father ‘shell-shocked’ after almost losing son to hospital infection

The 10-year-old boy had a kidney removed after being diagnosed with cancer.

Jane Barlow via PA Media
Inquiry: Looking into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

A father has told how he was left “shell shocked” after he almost lost his son to a hospital-acquired infection following an operation to remove the boy’s kidney.

Cameron Gough told the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry he did not expect to be put in a position where “a building almost killed our son”.

The inquiry began hearing evidence on Monday into problems at two flagship Scottish hospitals that contributed to the deaths of two children.

Mr Gough’s 10-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer after he became unwell in July 2018 when he was aged seven, and was found to have a kidney tumour.

ADVERT

In early September 2018 he had an operation to remove the kidney but his condition deteriorated after the operation and his room filled with medical staff battling to stabilise him.

Mr Gough told the inquiry: “When you see the fear in doctors’ eyes, the fear of the intelligent people, not the trainees but the really intelligent people, that’s scary, that was difficult to cope with and we kind of steeled ourselves for dealing with cancer and the implications of cancer, what we didn’t expect was to be put in a position where a building almost killed our son.

“And that’s really to put it brutally, a hospital-acquired infection was the point we came closest to losing our son.

“Later I said, it was only a line infection, compared to what had happened with cancer and getting the kidney removed it was only a line infection and the doctors said no, this was the thing we are most concerned about.

ADVERT

“That put the fear of God in me, because my son has just had his kidney out, he has just had treatment for cancer and the most concerning thing about this weekend is a line infection.”

Mr Gough told the inquiry that the same thing happened the following day, and medical staff again managed to stabilise his son.

He was told the problem was a hospital-acquired infection, described as a “poo bug”.

Mr Gough said that he was left “shell shocked” by the experience and said “it shot my confidence in the hospital an awful lot”.

He praised the Schiehallion unit, the children’s cancer unit at the QEUH, but said he was concerned about levels of cleanliness in other areas of the hospital and said that on one occasion he found “brown matter” on the bed in the room that his son was placed in and had to have it changed.

After that experience he started cleaning rooms his son was put in as he was not confident they were clean.

The inquiry is investigating the construction of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus in Glasgow and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences in Edinburgh.

ADVERT

The inquiry was ordered after patients at the Glasgow hospital died from infections linked to pigeon droppings and the water supply, and the opening of the Edinburgh site was delayed due to concerns over the ventilation system.

Steve Love QC is appearing on behalf of 54 parents or family members of patients, represented by Thompsons Solicitors Scotland, who were or are still being treated on the children’s cancer ward and neonatal unit at QEUH.

In his opening statement, he said children were “faced was serious infections, life threatening additional illnesses and a catalogue of other problems as a result of the hospital environment, the hospital water supply and the conduct of some of the medical staff there”.

Mr Love said: “Parents of the children affected want answers for what happened, what went wrong and why.

“Many of them have lost faith in the hospital as a safe place for their children to be treated.”

Earlier this year, an independent review found the deaths of two children at the QEUH were at least in part the result of infections linked to the hospital environment.

The review investigated 118 episodes of serious bacterial infection in 84 children and young people who received treatment for blood disease, cancer or related conditions at the Royal Hospital for Children at the campus.

It found a third of these infections were “most likely” to have been linked to the hospital environment.

Two of 22 deaths were, “at least in part”, the result of their infection, it said.

In his opening statement, Peter Gray QC, representing NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said it welcomed the inquiry and is determined to ensure that the issues which have required to be addressed in both hospitals do not arise in other future NHS infrastructure projects.

The inquiry in Edinburgh, chaired by Lord Brodie, continues.


Pedestrian dies after being struck by police van

The vehicle did not have blue lights or sirens activated at the time of the incident.

BrianAJackson via IStock
The woman was taken to hospital, but died shortly after.

An investigation has been launched after a woman died having been hit by a police van.

The incident took place at around 8.20pm on Merry Street in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, on Sunday.

The woman, 58, was hit by a marked Ford Transit, which was on routine duties at the time.

It did not have blue lights or sirens activated, police have said.

ADVERT

Following the collision, the woman was taken to the University Hospital Wishaw, but was pronounced dead shortly after.

Neither of the two police officers who were in the car at the time of the incident were injured.

Police Scotland say that the woman’s next of kin have been made aware and are being supported by specialist officers.

An investigation into the circumstances is being carried out by Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit and the incident has been referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

ADVERT

Sergeant John Tait, of the Road Policing Unit in Motherwell, said: “Our enquiries into this incident are ongoing and I would urge anyone who may have witnessed the collision or who has any other information to come forward. 

“We would be particularly keen to speak to anyone who may have dashcam or private CCTV footage from the area. 

“Anyone with information can call 101, quoting incident 3309 of September 19.”


Father ‘shell-shocked’ after almost losing son to hospital infection

The 10-year-old boy had a kidney removed after being diagnosed with cancer.

Jane Barlow via PA Media
Inquiry: Looking into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

A father has told how he was left “shell shocked” after he almost lost his son to a hospital-acquired infection following an operation to remove the boy’s kidney.

Cameron Gough told the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry he did not expect to be put in a position where “a building almost killed our son”.

The inquiry began hearing evidence on Monday into problems at two flagship Scottish hospitals that contributed to the deaths of two children.

Mr Gough’s 10-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer after he became unwell in July 2018 when he was aged seven, and was found to have a kidney tumour.

ADVERT

In early September 2018 he had an operation to remove the kidney but his condition deteriorated after the operation and his room filled with medical staff battling to stabilise him.

Mr Gough told the inquiry: “When you see the fear in doctors’ eyes, the fear of the intelligent people, not the trainees but the really intelligent people, that’s scary, that was difficult to cope with and we kind of steeled ourselves for dealing with cancer and the implications of cancer, what we didn’t expect was to be put in a position where a building almost killed our son.

“And that’s really to put it brutally, a hospital-acquired infection was the point we came closest to losing our son.

“Later I said, it was only a line infection, compared to what had happened with cancer and getting the kidney removed it was only a line infection and the doctors said no, this was the thing we are most concerned about.

ADVERT

“That put the fear of God in me, because my son has just had his kidney out, he has just had treatment for cancer and the most concerning thing about this weekend is a line infection.”

Mr Gough told the inquiry that the same thing happened the following day, and medical staff again managed to stabilise his son.

He was told the problem was a hospital-acquired infection, described as a “poo bug”.

Mr Gough said that he was left “shell shocked” by the experience and said “it shot my confidence in the hospital an awful lot”.

He praised the Schiehallion unit, the children’s cancer unit at the QEUH, but said he was concerned about levels of cleanliness in other areas of the hospital and said that on one occasion he found “brown matter” on the bed in the room that his son was placed in and had to have it changed.

After that experience he started cleaning rooms his son was put in as he was not confident they were clean.

The inquiry is investigating the construction of the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) campus in Glasgow and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences in Edinburgh.

ADVERT

The inquiry was ordered after patients at the Glasgow hospital died from infections linked to pigeon droppings and the water supply, and the opening of the Edinburgh site was delayed due to concerns over the ventilation system.

Steve Love QC is appearing on behalf of 54 parents or family members of patients, represented by Thompsons Solicitors Scotland, who were or are still being treated on the children’s cancer ward and neonatal unit at QEUH.

In his opening statement, he said children were “faced was serious infections, life threatening additional illnesses and a catalogue of other problems as a result of the hospital environment, the hospital water supply and the conduct of some of the medical staff there”.

Mr Love said: “Parents of the children affected want answers for what happened, what went wrong and why.

“Many of them have lost faith in the hospital as a safe place for their children to be treated.”

Earlier this year, an independent review found the deaths of two children at the QEUH were at least in part the result of infections linked to the hospital environment.

The review investigated 118 episodes of serious bacterial infection in 84 children and young people who received treatment for blood disease, cancer or related conditions at the Royal Hospital for Children at the campus.

It found a third of these infections were “most likely” to have been linked to the hospital environment.

Two of 22 deaths were, “at least in part”, the result of their infection, it said.

In his opening statement, Peter Gray QC, representing NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said it welcomed the inquiry and is determined to ensure that the issues which have required to be addressed in both hospitals do not arise in other future NHS infrastructure projects.

The inquiry in Edinburgh, chaired by Lord Brodie, continues.


Seven-year-old boy missing overnight found hiding in gran’s loft

Carson Shephard sparked a major police operation with a helicopter, divers and dog units searching areas in New Cumnock.

STV News

A seven-year-old boy who went missing on Sunday night has been found “safe and well” following a major search operation.

Carson Shephard was found in his grandmother’s loft in a wall cavity after disappearing from Afton Bridgend in New Cumnock, East Ayrshire.

The schoolboy was reported missing after having last been seen in the village at around 7.20pm on Sunday.

Carson was still missing on Monday morning with police deploying a helicopter, divers, dog units and receiving aid from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service water support unit.

ADVERT

After the schoolboy was found safe, Carson’s mum said he had spent the night in the loft and was discovered only after police using thermal equipment scanned the area on Monday.

‘I’m laughing now but, believe me, I wasn’t laughing before.’

Gemma Glover, Carson’s mum

Gemma Glover, 27, from Glasgow, said he had been staying with his grandmother Jacquie McCartney in New Cumnock for the past few months.

She told reporters: “It’s such a massive relief.

“Police searched the loft three times last night but came in with specialist equipment this morning.

ADVERT

“I’ve never felt anything like it, it was crazy. All night I was thinking how cold it was and in my mind I was like ‘he’s not survived that’.

“It was so cold last night and we genuinely thought he was out the house. The main thing is he’s all right. I can’t explain the emotion, it’s crazy.”

She added that Carson had wrapped himself in insulation and was tucked away at the end of the loft.

Carson’s mother Gemma added she discovered he was missing at about 11.30pm on Sunday through Facebook before rushing through from Glasgow to help search for him.

The mother of two, who also has a little girl, praised the search efforts of locals, adding: “The amount of people who drove through to search for him was amazing.”

She went on: “We hunted the house but the loft goes a bit back and he was in there.

“I’m laughing now but, believe me, I wasn’t laughing before.”

ADVERT

As she spoke to reporters outside her mother’s house, Carson peeped through the blinds to see what was going on.

Carson’s uncle Alec McCartney said it was a “massive relief” for the whole family after his nephew was discovered by specialist cameras “lying sleeping, sort of covered” with a wrap of insulation over him.

“There were so many people out searching for him this morning, it’s really helpful having people around about you. It’s a good outcome for everybody,” he said.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We are pleased to report that seven-year-old Carson Shephard, reported missing from New Cumnock has been found safe and well.

“Officers would like to thank everyone who assisted in this inquiry.

“He was found hiding in a wall cavity during a detailed search of his home address by specialist officers.”


Man, 46, dies at scene after falling from motorcycle

The man was part of a group of motorcyclists when the crash took place.

Malcolm Fife via Getty Images
Ambulance: Man pronounced dead at scene.

A man has died after crashing and falling from his motorcycle in Argyll.

The 46-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident that took place on the A816 road at around 9.55am on Monday.

He was riding a BMW motorcyle as part of a larger group before the crash.

Police and emergency services were in attendance but the man could not be saved.

ADVERT

Officers are now appealing for witnesses.

Sergeant Paul Macpherson of Police Scotland’s Road Policing Unit said: “Our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends at this time. 

“We are working to establish the full circumstances which led to this crash and would urge anyone who can help to come forward. 

“The man was riding north on the A816 as part of a group of motorcycles before the crash and we would urge anyone who witnessed the incident or who may have dashcam footage to get in touch. 

ADVERT

“Anyone who can help is asked to call 101.”


Bomb squad in attendance as shops and National Gallery evacuated

Emergency services are at the scene on Edinburgh's Princes Street.

STV News
Crowds gathering: Officers are dealing with the ongoing incident.

A busy Edinburgh street has been closed off with a bomb disposal unit in attendance.

Emergency services were also at the scene on the capital’s Princes Street, with several buildings left behind a police cordon.

Officers have since confirmed that a suspicious package found at the scene was confirmed as being non-viable.

Shoppers told how they had to be evacuated through backdoors as emergency services were called to the area on Monday afternoon.

ADVERT

The incident took place near to the city’s National Gallery, which had to close along with several shops and other businesses from Frederik Street to St Andrew’s Square.

Posts on social media show bomb disposal officers at the scene along with the ambulance service and police.

Crowds also gathered at the end of Frederik Street where the cordon begins.

Scottish Citylink confirmed that Princes Street has been closed and asked customers to board at the bus station or west end of the city instead.

ADVERT

And Lothian Buses said vehicles are being diverted away from the scene.

Police Scotland later confirmed that a suspicious package that was found in the area was found to be non-viable.

A spokesperson for the force said: “At around 1.40pm police received a report of a suspicious package found at a building on the Mound, Edinburgh.

“Emergency services attended, the building was evacuated and a cordon put in place.

“EOD attended to examine the package and confirmed it was non-viable.

“All surrounding road are in the process of being reopened.”


Man dies and woman injured in ‘human swan’ paragliding crash

Sacha Dench and her support staff member Dan Burton were in the final stages of a Round Britain Climate Challenge.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Ms Dench is currently in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in a serious condition.

A man has died and a woman has been seriously injured in a paragliding crash in the Highlands.

Emergency services were called around 4:45pm on Saturday to the incident near Loch Na Gainmhich.

Sacha Dench, dubbed the “human swan”, and her support staff member Dan Burton, 54, were in the final stages of a 3000-mile Round Britain Climate Challenge.

Mr Burton died at the scene and Ms Dench is currently in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in a serious condition.

ADVERT

The PA news agency understands that Ms Dench had been flying earlier in the day with Mr Burton, whose role includes documenting the climate challenge from the air, taking film and photographs.

The pair had landed before taking off again at around 3:30pm.

The ground crew, who communicate with the flyers and pick them up when they land, thereafter lost contact.

In statement, the trustees of the Conservation Without Borders, which was founded by Ms Dench, said: “We are very sorry to have to confirm that Dan Burton, the support paramotorist has died as a result of the accident.

ADVERT

“Sacha Dench is seriously injured and is being treated in hospital. Her injuries are serious but not life-threatening

“Both highly experienced paramotorists, our thoughts are with the family of Dan Burton to whom we offer our sincere condolences.

“The incident was attended by police and medics and enquiries are underway to establish the details of the accident.”

The statement added that the families of those involved had been informed and that the Round Britain Climate Challenge would now be put on hold.

Ms Dench had begun her climate challenge in June, taking off from Stevenston in North Ayrshire.


Schoolgirl one of the first in Scotland to get jab in 12-15 rollout

Some health boards in Scotland offered a Covid-19 vaccination to any 12-15-year-old at drop-in clinics on Monday.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Molly Rowe: Teenager gets first vaccine.

A Lanarkshire schoolgirl and her cousin were among the first 12 to 15-year-olds in Scotland to get a coronavirus vaccine on Monday.

Molly Rowe, 15, who attends St John Ogilvie High School in Hamilton, was vaccinated at the Fernhill Community Centre in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, along with her cousin Harry Yates, 14, from East Kilbride.

The pair, who have had both dancing and football sessions disrupted due to coronavirus, said they were happy to come after school and get the Pfizer jab before travelling to Spain for a family holiday in two weeks.

Connor McKinnie, 13, from Rutherglen, was also one of the first through the door at the drop-in vaccine centre, after his mother Margaret spotted on Facebook it was opening.

ADVERT

It comes as Scotland’s rollout of Covid booster vaccinations for elderly care home residents also got under way.

Older residents in care homes are the first to be offered both flu and coronavirus booster vaccines from Monday, following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the Scottish Government confirmed.

Frontline health and social care workers will able to book an appointment for a booster jab online at NHS Inform from Tuesday.

Adults aged 70 and over and those aged 16 and over who are on the highest risk list, previously known as the shielding list, will start being contacted by letter or by their GP from the end of September.

ADVERT

People on the highest risk list who were severely immunosuppressed at the time of their last Covid vaccination will be offered a third primary dose instead.

The Scottish Government confirmed other eligible groups, including all those aged 16 to 49 with underlying health conditions, adult carers, unpaid and young carers, adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals and all adults over 50, will be able to book an appointment online from October.

Heath Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I am pleased to see the booster programme getting under way for residents in care homes for older people, offering longer lasting protection against severe Covid-19 illness.”

He added: “We are also starting vaccination of 12 to 15-year-olds after Scottish ministers accepted advice from the four UK chief medical officers.

“This group can now head to drop-in clinics for their jabs or wait for a letter offering them a scheduled appointment.”

The booster vaccines will be offered to millions of people across the UK from Monday, alongside annual flu jabs.

Scientists behind the CovBoost trial said that there was a “boost” in antibody levels generated among people who had a third dose in the clinical trial.

ADVERT

The study, which informed the JCVI’s decision for the booster programme, is due to report its findings publicly in early October.

Three vaccines have been approved as safe and effective as boosters, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, but experts have decided to opt for Pfizer as a preference after studies showed it is well tolerated and works well as a booster.

The latest data from the Scottish Government released on Monday afternoon showed 4,157,613 people across Scotland have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination and 3,810,775 have received their second dose.

A total of 2,917 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Scotland in the past 24 hours but no deaths have also been recorded.

The Scottish Government stressed registry offices are generally closed at weekends.

The data published on Monday indicates the death toll under the daily measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, remains at 8,378.

The daily test positivity rate is 10.8%, up from 9.1% the previous day.

The Scottish Government included a warning on the figures for the numbers of new cases, new tests and daily test positivity rate, stating: “Please note that NHS Grampian Lab have not submitted lab files since Saturday September 18, investigation into this issue is ongoing.”

There were 1,088 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 14 on the previous day, with 97 in intensive care, down three.

More on:

Dad gets new heart just in time to see first child born

Ross Peters spent months in hospital waiting for a heart transplant while his wife was pregnant.

Ross Peters via Contributed

A young dad who spent months in hospital waiting for a heart transplant got home just in time to see his son arrive into the world.

Ross Peters was too sick to leave the Golden Jubilee in Glasgow as he waited for a donor – while his pregnant wife Shauni was preparing to give birth for the first time.

After eight weeks in hospital, he was woken by a nurse who gave him the life-saving news that a suitable heart had been found.

That meant 27-year-old Ross – telling his story to mark Organ Donation Week – could be at his wife’s side when their first child, Louis, was born.

ADVERT

‘Motivation to keeping going’

“Everything worked out perfectly, timing wise,” he told STV News. “It couldn’t have been timed any better.

“I was absolutely terrified I was going to miss the birth, it was a motivation to keep going and make sure I stayed as physically fit as I could for the operation, so I would recover quickly.

“But there was a part of me that genuinely didn’t think I would be there [at the birth]. I was told I could watch it through a webcam, but I said that wasn’t happening.”

ADVERT

No other cure

Ross, from Dundee, was just 21-years-old when he suddenly felt unwell while out with friends, and the next morning found himself struggling to catch his breath.

After being taken by ambulance to Ninewells Hospital, he was soon transferred to the Scottish National Adult Heart Failure Service at NHS Golden Jubilee, where he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a disease that affects the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body.

Ross was fitted with a defibrillator but was told there was no cure – other than a heart transplant.

Ross Peters via Contributed
Ross Peters recovers in hospital after his heart transplant.

In January 2020, the heart-starting device activated twice, and by the summer, Ross’s health had deteriorated so much that he was placed on the urgent transplant list and told he was too sick to leave hospital.

Over the next two months, coronavirus restricted the amount of time he could spend with his family, including his pregnant wife.

He said: “I went into the Golden Jubilee thinking it wouldn’t be that bad and was then told I was so ill I couldn’t leave the hospital and actually needed a heart transplant.

ADVERT

“It was during lockdown, my wife was pregnant, it was awful and all I could think about was being well enough to be at my wife’s side at the birth of our son.”

Ross Peters via Contributed
Ross holds a newly born Louis.

Ross is now at home and loving life with his young son Louis and wants others to discuss organ donation with their families.

“I take 15 tablets every day, but I roll out of bed – I can do anything I want,” he said. “Nothing stops me.

“I can raise my son and none of that would have been possible without a heart transplant. I’m so grateful and so lucky.”

‘We all celebrated’

For staff at the Golden Jubilee – who have performed 36 heart transplants since the start of the pandemic – getting Ross home in time to see Louis being born was a special moment.

Consultant transplant cardiologist Dr Jane Cannon told STV News: “With Ross, I know his partner was pregnant and we all felt part of that journey.

“So for him to get home and see the birth of his son – we all celebrated in that.”

‘So many people waiting’

Organ Donation Week – which runs from Monday, September 20 – aims to encourage people to speak with their families about their wishes once they die.

Scotland has moved to an opt-out system, which means it’s assumed organs will be donated unless people state otherwise or are in an “excluded group” – under 16s, adults who lack capacity and those who have lived here less than a year.

Dr Cannon said: “Organ Donation Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of organ donation and transplant in general.

“This is an important topic which may not come up in everyday conversation, but it’s important to discuss with family and friends so your wishes are known.

“Despite best efforts, there are so many people waiting for a life-saving operation.”


You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?