Queen’s Birthday weekend in 2016 is one Daniel Vizor will never forget. That was the weekend that, overnight, his life changed forever.
Other than a persistent cough, Daniel was in pretty good health. When his cough started to get worse Daniel went to his GP, who suspected pneumonia and ordered a chest x-ray.
That same evening, Daniel’s doctor called to say his heart was dangerously enlarged and he needed to head straight to the nearest emergency department. Daniel went to The Alfred, where he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy – a condition that affects the way the heart muscle pumps – and put on medication to strengthen his heart. But the medication wasn’t working and within a few days, Daniel received the life-changing news that he would need a heart transplant.
“In the space of a week, I went from being okay to needing a heart transplant – it was a big shock,” Daniel said.
Daniel was fitted with a Ventricular Assist Device (VAD), which is a mechanical pump that acts as an artificial heart. A few months later, he was well enough to be put on the transplant list.
Daniel received the call just one week after being put on the list – and on the same day that he was discharged from the Alfred after a bout of pneumonia.
“It had only been a week and I got a call that they had a heart for me,” he said.
“It was amazing but shocking - in part because I wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly, but also because having been sick with pneumonia for the first few days I'd been on the transplant list, in actual fact the first time I could possibly have received a heart transplant was the time I got the call. I think the first thing I said to them was, ‘are you sure?’ Presenting to The Alfred Emergency Department and telling them ‘I’m here for a heart transplant’ was certainly one of the more surreal things I’ve done in my life.”
Despite going through four weeks of early rejection, Daniel’s transplant was a success. Since then, he’s recovered fully and is living his life with a new appreciation.
“I’m incredibly grateful and thankful to my donor and their family that I now have a heart that works. Going through a transplant, it does put a different spin on things. You don’t waste so much time sweating the small stuff and you have a greater appreciation for what really matters.
“When it comes to organ donation, I can only point to my own experience. An amazing thing can come out of a really bad situation. It’s such a generous, loving thing to do.”
This week, Donate Life Week, consider joining the Australian Organ Donor Register and make your choice count by discussing it with your family.