Darren Gibson – LVAD Patient

Darren Gibson and Max Johnson (Heart Recipient and behind Max and Keira’s Law)

In 1990 at the age of 22 I started to feel run down, very tired and went to see my GP. I was told there wasn’t anything serious and over the following 15 years I was told I had panic attacks, Asthma, ME and various other illnesses. At the end of 2003 I went to see a young new GP, he said he wasn’t happy with my treatment and sent me to the fast track chest pain clinic at my local hospital.

In January 2004, I was given my diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy and severe heart failure, and two years later i was also diagnosed as a diabetic.

Sadly, my condition continued to deteriorate, and in November 2007 I felt so bad that i didn’t think I was going to make Christmas, so I was put on a waiting list for a biventricular pacemaker and internal defibrillator (ICD). In February 2008, whilst waiting for the device, I had an awful few months where I couldn’t lie down without struggling to breathe – I felt like I was drowning.

Following a first, unsuccessful attempt, I had CRTD fitted in May 2008. I remained stable from 2008 until early 2009 when my local Consultant decided to refer me to Wythenshawe hospital for a transplant assessment. The consultant at the transplant centre didn’t think I was ready but he would reassess me every 3 months.

In May 2011 I was told to go and stay in hospital for a week for the full assessment. 13th July 2011 was a crucial day in my life, it was the day I was told that I needed a heart transplant. This didn’t come as a shock since I knew my health had been deteriorating.

I was then asked to return for appointments every 3 months. 2013 was a very difficult time and if I wanted to go any distance my wife had to push me in a wheelchair. I felt my health deteriorating week by week, and in June 2013, I was told I needed an LVAD (a left ventricular assistance device) as the pressures between his heart and lungs had become too high for transplant. As soon as I woke up from the LVAD operation I felt really awake for the first time in years. I was discharged from hospital 2 weeks after the operation and I now feel far better than I did in 2013.

Although I’ve now been on the transplant list for over 7 years, I remain optimistic that my time will come and I am very grateful to all the staff at Wythenshawe hospital, who I describe as “amazing people”.

I’m now waiting for the next chapter in my life and even though I know it will be tough I’m ready for the challenge. “I’ve still got so much to do with my life, it’s not time for me to go yet.”

the Transplant unit Wythenshawe Hospital Southmoor Rd Manchester M23 9LT