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Surgeons saved father's life by giving him emergency heart transplant





  • Father-of-one Peter Wakefield, 29, needed an emergency heart transplant
  • He was struck down by a mystery virus which stopped the organ working 
  • Surgeons cut right through a tattoo he had on his chest which was ruined

By Keiligh Baker for MailOnline

Published: 03:30 EST, 8 September 2016 | Updated: 03:44 EST, 8 September 2016

A father who underwent an emergency heart transplant has been left with a nonsensical tattoo after the surgeons cut straight through it.

Father-of-one Peter Wakefield, 29, was struck down by a mystery virus which attacked his heart leaving him with dilated cardiomyopathy - where the heart muscle becomes stretched and thin.

By the time builder Mr Wakefield, from Morecambe, Lancashire, had been transferred to specialist unit, the Northwest Heart Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, he was told his heart was functioning at only 25 per cent and that he could not leave the hospital without a transplant as without it he would die.

Peter Wakefield underwent an emergency heart transplant and was left with a nonsensical tattoo after the surgeons cut straight through it (Pictured before, left, and right, after the op)

His own father, also Peter Wakefield, died of a heart attack when he was 47, so he knew he had to undergo the operation.

However, while Mr Wakefield feels lucky to be alive a tattoo on his chest did not fare too well following the operation.

He had the words 'Family where life begins love never ends' - but surgeons were forced to cut straight through the tattoo when they performed the life saving operation. 

When they stitched him back up the tattoo read: 'Family life begins where ever ends love.' 

Mr Wakefield, now 30, said:'You don't expect to be told you need a heart transplant at 29.

'I had always been fit and active and I played football and went on days out with my son.

'I had never been in hospital before and never really been ill before so to suddenly have something major like this happen was a massive shock.

'Doctors told me I had to stay in hospital until they found a new heart and told me that without a transplant, I wouldn't see the year out.

Father-of-one Peter Wakefield, 29, was struck down by a mystery virus which attacked his heart leaving him with dilated cardiomyopathy - where the heart muscle becomes stretched and thin

Father-of-one Peter Wakefield, 29, was struck down by a mystery virus which attacked his heart leaving him with dilated cardiomyopathy - where the heart muscle becomes stretched and thin

'That's when it hit home and really sank in.'

His illness began in March last year when he began suffering from a cough and symptoms of a cold, he thought he just had a touch of flu and carried on as normal.

A couple of weeks later his symptoms hadn't cleared up and he felt out of breath and then one morning, he woke up to find his face swollen.

Mr Wakefield, who has a six-year-old son, said: 'I didn't think anything of it at first as I just thought I had flu.

'I had a cough, was out of breath and had general flu type symptoms. Then one morning I woke up with such a swollen face, I looked like the Elephant Man.

'I couldn't even see out of my eyes properly as my eyelids were so swollen.'

His illness began in March last year when he began suffering from a cough and symptoms of a cold, he thought he just had a touch of flu and carried on as normal

His illness began in March last year when he began suffering from a cough and symptoms of a cold, he thought he just had a touch of flu and carried on as normal

Mr Wakefield, who was working maintaining caravan parks in Morecambe, Blackpool and Cumbria at the time, rang 111 and was booked in to a same day surgery to see a doctor.

After listening to his heart and breathing, the doctor told him he was fine and thought he had just had an allergic reaction to something and told him to get some antihistamines.

However, the next morning, Mr Wakefield began coughing up blood. He thought it was probably down to grazing his throat through coughing so much, but rang 111 again who told him to go to A&E.

After hearing his symptoms, the hospital doctor at Royal Lancaster Infirmary asked him if there was any hereditary heart disease in his family and Peter explained his dad died of a heart attack at the age of 47.

Mr Wakefield said: 'The kept me in hospital for tests and told me that something was definitely not right but they were not sure what it was.

'Scans and tests showed I had patches on my lung, partial pneumonia and a blood clot on my lung.

Medics kept Peter's heart going with medication and in August last year, five months after falling ill, he was told they had a new heart

Medics kept Peter's heart going with medication and in August last year, five months after falling ill, he was told they had a new heart

'I then had an echocardiogram and a total scan of my heart and this revealed my heart was basically knackered.'

Tests revealed Mr Wakefield had become ill with a virus which had attacked his heart.

He was referred to Lancashire Cardiac Centre in Blackpool where they carried out further tests and managed to control Peter's heart with medication.

Doctors were planning to fit Peter's heart with a mini defibrillator but the procedure had to be cancelled twice as he was too ill.

After three weeks at Blackpool, Peter was referred to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester and was shocked to be told his heart was only functioning at 25 per cent and he needed to be put on the urgent waiting list for a heart transplant.

Medics kept Peter's heart going with medication and in August last year, five months after falling ill, he was told they had a new heart.

He added: 'When I was on the waiting list for a transplant, I did feel uncomfortable as I felt I was waiting for someone else to pass away for my chance to live.

'It does make you feel guilty, but if the person had opted into organ donation, it is what they wanted and their choice.' 

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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