Cardiologist who needed heart transplant of his own talks of his ‘amazing gift’

A doctor who had a heart transplant last year has told of the "amazing gift" that saved his life.

Dr James Hubbard, 42, was working in cardiology at Lewisham Hospital in London when he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, aged 35.

His heart pump function fell to 20%.

"I had lots of coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue. I could only walk a short way," he said.

But last year he received a transplant and is now back at work and grateful to the organ donor.

He said: "My gratitude to his family is total. It is the most amazing gift. Without it, I wouldn’t be alive today."

James told how he endured the terrible ordeal of wondering if he would see his children Rory, 12, Alexander, nine, and 18-month-old Emily grow up with wife Sarah, 41, a curator.

He fell so ill last year that he had to go into intensive care last year.

"I went from routine to the urgent transplant list," he recalled.

"It is absolutely terrifying, you have a shower, you shave your chest, then you wait, and it gets cancelled, and that is a nerve-wracking time.

"You would never wish for a transplant – then it is the only thing that will save your life. I never told my patients I had heart failure, but it gives you a real understanding of what people go through."

He was offered two hearts – one from a donor who was Hepatitis B positive before he died – before a suitable donor was found after a wait of around four months for his op at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge.

"It comes down to the fact there are not enough organs available. The first two potential donors had coronary heart disease," said James.

"The third one I know was a man of around my size who was within 10-20 years of my age. It is the most amazing gift anyone can give.

"Without it, I would not be alive today. You are worried you are not going to see your kids grow up. We find it so hard to talk about death, but I would urge people to have that conversation about their final wishes.

"I may never meet the family of my donor, but if I did, I would just say the biggest thank you, because they are amazing people who made that decision to save my life at the most difficult time imaginable."

  • The British Heart Foundation is supporting Max and Keira’s Law and
    wants to encourage families to have those difficult but life-saving
    conversations about organ donation with their loved ones.

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