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Last Updated: Friday, 18 June, 2004, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Heart pioneer grateful for life
Derrick Morris
Derrick Morris says he's been able to enjoy his grandchildren and travel
When Wales' longest surviving heart transplant patient was offered the operation there was just a 15% chance he would live through it.

Now, 25 years since the first successful procedure in the UK, more than 80% of patients recover.

Despite the odds he was given all those years ago Swansea's Derrick Morris said he knew it was a risk worth taking.

Without it he would not have lived to see the birth of his three treasured grandchildren.

If I had not have had the operation I have three wonderful grandchildren which I would not have seen
Derrick Morris

The first successful operation was carried out at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire in 1979.

When Mr Morris had his surgery in February 1980 at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex, it was still a rare and pioneering operation.

The former Swansea Docks worker, now 74, suffered his first heart attack in 1975.

Within four years he was constantly collapsing and had to give up work.

But thanks to the operation, performed by world-famous heart surgeon Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, he has enjoyed 24 years of quality life that he did not believe was possible.

"If I had not have had the operation I have three wonderful grandchildren which I would not have seen," he said.

Derrick Morris back in 1980 in Harefield Hospital
Derrick Morris was one of the heart transplant pioneers back in 1980

"The other thing is that holiday wise I've been to many parts of the world.

"I've been to America eight or nine times and I've been to the Far East - it's a great life."

After the operation Mr Morris was urged to take life six months at a time.

Twenty-four years on he is still going strong and hoping for many more healthy years to come.

He helps promote campaigns both to fight heart disease and to encourage more people to become organ donors.

He says he has never forgotten his life has continued as a result of another's loss.

"It's a life that I would not have had had it not been for the lady who gave me her heart," he said.

"Neither would I have had if someone had not asked her husband if he would allow her to become a donor."

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22 Aug 03  |  Health

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