For the first time in fifteen years Craig is able to feel his toes again. Craig received a life changing heart transplant just over two months ago and has never felt more alive.
With many hurdles along the way to his transplant, Craig said there were times he felt like he wouldn’t make it another week.
“I’d wake up in the morning and open my eyes, but I couldn’t see anything. I knew I was in strife – I knew how it felt to be dying, I’d felt it before and I knew I wouldn’t make it another six weeks to my appointment,” Craig said.
After being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2007 and having a cardioverter-defibrillator fitted, his health started to decline and he went on the heart transplant waiting list. Craig had gone to the hospital for what should have been a routine appointment, but he was so unwell he didn’t leave the hospital for two months.
“I was too sick to get a heart transplant, my heart function was at eight per cent and had shut my liver and kidneys down, then started shutting my body down,” Craig said.
The two months Craig spent in ICU on life support resulted in him having a ventricle assist device (VAD) fitted. And the time he spent bed-ridden meant he needed a knee replacement and due to this he was temporarily removed from transplant waiting list.
By October, Craig had worked hard to regain his fitness and was in stable enough health to go back on the list. After twenty-months on the VAD and many hurdles, this year in May, Craig got the phone call that changed his life.
“I was rapt, I couldn’t wait to get to the hospital. I’m still pinching myself – I can’t believe it. My family were really excited, I have a wife, two children and six grandkids,” Craig said.
Thanks to the care of the transplant team and the generosity of a donor, at 59-years-old Craig is finally able to start living again.
“I had forgotten what it was like to live a real life. I hadn’t been able to do a lot of things, for the last two years if I wasn’t in the hospital I was at home. For 12-13 years my health was slowly slipping away, now I’m walking 3-5km every day and doing the gym at home.”
“I think it’s hard for people to understand if they haven’t known someone who’s gone through a transplant - if that person hadn’t been a donor then I’d be gone. Hearts don’t come along often.”
To register as organ donor visit https://donatelife.gov.au/register-donor-today