Since receiving my transplant - life has totally changed. I look and feel better, I can complete simple daily routines, I can work and I enjoy exploring the great outdoors.
Alan Wylie, 46, from Ballymena, received a lifesaving heart transplant almost 29 years ago. He was 18 at the time and is now one of the longest surviving heart recipients in the world.
Here, Alan gives us his life changing experience of organ donation.
“Throughout my childhood, I had often been described as a ‘lazy’ child. At the age of 15, I was diagnosed as having a cardiomyopathy and had endless hospital check-ups for the next three years.
“In January 1985 I was admitted to the Royal Hospital, Belfast, as I was having breathing difficulties. Soon after, I was given the life changing news that I was suffering heart failure and needed to be added to the transplant waiting list.
“Before receiving my transplant I was very ill, I was always down, I had issues breathing and simple daily tasks like climbing a flight of stairs became a trying and exhausting experience. In bad weather I was like a prisoner, totally confined to the house.
“My condition made life difficult for my family, particularly placing a heavy burden on my mum who drove to the Royal every day over a period of six months to visit me. She didn’t complain, however I could tell this was a stressful time for her.
“Since receiving my transplant - life has totally changed. I look and feel better, I can complete simple daily routines, I can work and I enjoy exploring the great outdoors. My recovery was complete when I competed in the transplant games, wining various events and medals.
“Most importantly, I have experienced the joy of becoming a father, something for which I will be eternally grateful. This has provided me with the opportunity to watch my children grow into young adults.
“Supporting organ donation and transplantation has now become a huge part of my life. I joined the Northern Ireland Transplant Association and have been the vice chair of this fantastic charity for two years.
“I would strongly encourage everyone to sign the organ donor register and to talk to their families about their wishes. Organ donation is the greatest gift possible. I am living proof of its success - one person’s gift can benefit and change the lives of so many.”