Heart transplant man backs donor campaign

Harry Prentice of Braehead near Forth with Anne McTaggart MSP
Harry Prentice of Braehead near Forth with Anne McTaggart MSP

THE Braehead-based mum of the first Scot to get an electric heart is backing a campaign to alter the country’s organ donation law.

Yvonne Prentice – whose son Harry (20) underwent the life saving transplant four years ago – supports a Bill by MSP Anne McTaggart allowing everyone’s organs to be used after death unless they have specifically instructed otherwise.

Yvonne said: “Anne’s Bill is to promote the change in the current stance to one of soft opt out.

“Wales are introducing the system this December, so why aren’t we doing the same?

“It is outrageous that only 40 of our 130+ MSPs are supporting the Bill, as three people die every day in the UK while waiting on the transplant list.

“We must approach or contact our MSPs in an effort to influence and encourage as much support as possible as the Bill moves forward.”

Yvonne’s determination to back a change in the transplant law stems from the battles faced by Harry, who had no choice but to undergo a heart transplant four years ago after falling seriously ill with a dilated cardiomyopathy (severely enlarged heart).

But a suitable organ wasn’t available straight away, meaning that Harry faced certain death if a new heart couldn’t be found.

But salvation came via the mechanical heart which was fitted at Clydebank’s Golden Jubilee National Hospital.

“Harry was the first Scottish man to have an electric heart fitted,” Yvonne said.

“He had no pulse or blood pressure, but this device – which whirred at 8200 revs per minute – kept him alive.

“A battery pack – which was over Harry’s shoulder like a man bag – was attached to his insides via a cable through his tummy. He couldn’t shower, swim or go near water with this thing on and he had to power it up every night.”

But disaster struck two years ago when Harry sustained an infection and the electric heart had to be removed. After spending three weeks fighting for his life in intensive care, he underwent a second operation at the Golden Jubilee to install a conventional human heart.

Although the operation was a success, it was discovered that Harry had suffered a severe stroke leaving him with left side paralysis, sight problems and brain damage.

But he has fought back and is now an outspoken supporter of the campaign to launch the Transplantation (Authorisation of Removal of Organs etc) (Scotland) Bill.

Harry was awarded Young Heart Hero of the Year at a British Heart Foundation conference last month.

After joining the Clyde Valley Beavers disabled sports club as a swimmer, Harry gained three gold medals in his first gala competition. He is keen on securing further success in the pool.