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17 October 2017

Mark Serwotka returns to Papworth to help with Transplant Study Day

Union leader Mark Serwotka came back to Papworth Hospital to give staff a unique insight into life as a heart transplant patient.

The leader of the Public and Commercial Services union was at the hospital to take part in a Transplant Study Day held on Friday (October 13) – which was attended by almost 50 healthcare professionals, many of them nurses.

Mr Serwotka was struck down by a mystery virus in 2010, after washing his dog which had disappeared on a walk and returned covered in an unidentified substance. His heart was irreparably damaged by the illness and he was fitted with a ventricular assist device (VAD) when it failed in 2014.

He was readmitted to Papworth last August when the VAD developed a clot. Doctors placed him on the urgent transplant list and he received his new heart in December.

“The wait was difficult, particularly for my family,” said Mr Serwotka. “When you finally get the nod you feel more relief than worry. I’d lost three stone and by that time had the feeling ‘we really need to get on with this’.

“It helps if you can give people an insight into what it’s like to spend 100 days on the ward waiting for a transplant. I’m very happy to explain how amazing I found my experience if it benefits Papworth and the staff here.”

Transplant Co-ordinator Sadie Von Joel, who organised the event, said it was the first time a patient had been invited to speak at a Transplant Study Day.

“Mark was the perfect guest speaker – because he’s spent time at Papworth both as a VAD patient and a heart transplant patient. He spoke very well, as you’d expect, and was very honest – he didn’t hold back on his personal story.

“We had around 15 members of staff join us from Papworth, the rest were from elsewhere - it’s a good chance to network. And for people who are involved at the beginning of the transplant procedure it’s a nice opportunity to see the end result - a happy patient.”

 

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