An ex-policeman who was given two weeks to live is set to celebrate another Christmas with his family, a year after a miraculous heart transplant saved his life.
Neil Eadie, from Prestwich, had lost hope after complications stopped him getting a new heart.
The 61-year-old’s parents both died from similar conditions, and he had his first scare at 45. Ill health would eventually force him to retire as a Greater Manchester Police Constable in 2004.
His deteriorating condition forced him to give up an active lifestyle, until he was hospitalised in October 2013. Things moved from bad to worse, and he signed a Do Not Resuscitate Order after coming to terms with 2013 being his last Christmas with wife Lynn and their three children.
At the eleventh hour doctors decided on a groundbreaking operation to install a balloon in his heart that allowed the fluid to drain, and he was rushed to the top of the country’s transplant list.
But it was not until the eighth potential donor heart came through that he was out of the woods.
He said: “It got to Valentine’s Day this year, and they came in my room. They said we’ve got a donor heart. My resolve had dwindled. I thought ‘yeah, whatever’.
“But at 8.40 that morning the doors burst open, the charge nurse came in and she said ‘It’s a goer’. That was it. I just had time to phone my wife, and that was it – off to surgery at 100 miles per hour.”
Now fighting fit after six hours under the knife, he has paid tribute to those who supported him through his treatment
He said: “They all went through it with me. I had great support from my family, from the professionals, right across the board.”
He now works as a volunteer at Wythenshawe Hospital, and has written a book to guide others through the transplant process.
He said: “If I didn’t live in the UK I would probably be dead. There’s little doubt about that. I know the NHS gets a slating but as far as I’m concerned it’s the finest institute ever.”
As the NHS Blood and Transplant service launches a campaign to raise awareness of the 415 patients in Greater Manchester who face Christmas on transplant waiting lists, Neil has called for more people to consider becoming donors after they die.
He added: “People die in great numbers every day. What a great shame to sacrifice perfectly good organs when they could be used by so many people to extend their lives, and in doing so bring some degree of satisfaction to the families of the donor themselves.”
While 171 patients in the region have been given new organs this year, new figures show 24 have died while waiting for a transplant.
And Neil said the sad tale of a man he knew was a stark reminder of how much of a difference being a donor could make.
He said: “He fell down a flight of stairs and picked up a brain injury, before being declared clinically dead. But his death saved or improved the lives of seven different people. That’s how important organ donation is.”
Director of the Transplant Unit at University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust, Professor Nizar Yonan, said: “Neil has made a tremendous recovery following his heart transplant earlier this year and we wish him all the best for the future.
“He now also acts as a ‘buddy’ for other patients due to undergo transplant operations at UHSM offering help, support and advice.”