Man gets new heart just weeks after dad’s coronavirus death

Geddes McLean waited four years for a transplant, spending the last 11 months living in a hotel.

A man’s four-year wait for a new heart came to an emotional end just weeks after his dad’s death.

Geddes McLean, 53, spent 11 months living in a hotel next a hospital so he was ready for the life-saving surgery.

He was isolating when he heard his dad, Graham, had died with coronavirus in his care home.

Two weeks later, Geddes – one of ten adults in Scotland to get a new heart during lockdown – finally received his transplant.

One of the other patients at the Golden Jubilee Hospital near Glasgow, who drove Geddes to the funeral, told him his dad would provide the vital organ.

“I take a lot of comfort from that,” he told STV News.

A battery-operated mechanical pump, known as an LVAD, kept Geddes, from Peterhead in Aberdeenshire, alive for 27 months while he was on the waiting list.  

Diagnosed with heart failure in 2008 aged 42, doctors ruled he needed a transplant eight years later.

It took just a month before a matching heart was found, but Geddes’ hopes were dashed at the 11th hour when problems were discovered while he was already in the operating theatre.

When his condition began to deteriorate last June, he was put on the urgent list and moved into the hotel.

Then, one morning as he mourned his father, he took the phone call that gave him a new lease of life.

“It came as quite a shock because I had been here for so long,” Geddes said.

“All of a sudden I got an offer and it went ahead. I didn’t really have much of a chance for it to sink in.

“Even when I was in intensive care in the days after the transplant, I had to get the surgeon to come and speak to me because I convinced that I hadn’t got it.”

Geddes’ son Ryan was able to see his dad before the transplant but afterwards, due to Covid restrictions, it was another six weeks before the recovering patient could catch up with relatives in Peterhead.

After surgery, Geddes’ new ‘adopted family’ – including fellow patients, his medical team and hotel staff – helped to raise his spirits.

Geddes said: “The staff in the hotel sent me a wee video from them all after the operation.

“I was sitting up in the ward and this message came through. They had me in tears … but good tears.”

Geddes still needs to make the journey from Peterhead to see the transplant team in Clydebank, but only for check-ups.  

During the pandemic, the advanced heart failure service at the NHS Golden Jubliee has experienced one of its busiest periods.

Dr Jane Cannon, consulant cardiologist, said: “The fear was our numbers would drop in adult cardiac transplantation because of demands on the NHS in general, but just this week we carried out our tenth transplant since the beginning of lockdown.

“Some centres do 10-15 heart transplants a year, so to do this in just a few months is really quite remarkable.”

As for the donor, Geddes says they and their family will never be far from his thoughts.

“Obviously the family had to make that decision at a hard time for them,” he said. “I’m just so grateful because if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.

“They have given me a chance of life I which couldn’t have had. You don’t take things for granted anymore.”

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