World’s longest surviving heart transplant patient celebrates 35 years since life-saving operation

PUBLISHED: 05:53 02 December 2017

An artist's impression of how the new Papworth Hospital at Cambridge Biomedical Campus will look from the north west

An artist's impression of how the new Papworth Hospital at Cambridge Biomedical Campus will look from the north west

ILIFFE

Sandy Law has been given two new hearts at Papworth Hospital.

Sandy Law, believed to be the world’s longest surviving heart transplant patient. Picture: Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation TrustSandy Law, believed to be the world’s longest surviving heart transplant patient. Picture: Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

The world’s longest surviving heart transplant patient celebrated the 35th anniversary of the operation, performed at Papworth Hospital, since which she has had a second transplant.

Sandy Law, now 62, was 27 when she became the youngest person to be given a new heart at Papworth on November 22, 1982. She grew up with a life expectancy of 35.

“I expected to die,” she said. “At least, I really didn’t expect to live beyond my mid-30s. I was 23 when I first became ill, suffering with breathlessness and pain.

“My condition – hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy – meant the muscles in my heart had grown too big and it had become as tight as a rugby ball. I remember Mr [Terence] English telling me that the success of the operation depended 25 per cent on his skill as a surgeon, 25 per cent on the drugs and 50 per cent on how I dealt with it. And it was a success – the best outcome was that the heart might last 15 years, in the end it lasted 23 years.”

Sandy had a second heart transplant in 2005, transplanted by consultant surgeon Steven Tsui after her first donor heart failed.

Mr Tsui said: “She is particularly lucky to have received two heart transplants – of the more than 1,400 patients who have had a heart transplant at Papworth, only 32 have been suitable for a second transplant.

“We hope that Sandy will continue to enjoy life for many years to come.”

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