A Wigan dad who has suffered from a life-threatening condition since birth has been given fresh hope as he reaches the top of the urgent list for a new heart.
After several disappointments, including surgery being aborted in the operating theatre, Dave Hughes has been told that he is now top priority for an organ swap in the country.
The 32-year-old hit the headlines after images of his baby son George were posted on social media appealing for help in securing Dave a life-saving transplant.
He has been in and out of hospital his entire life due to a congenital heart defect known as transposition of the great arteries, meaning his major arteries are the wrong way round.
The family has faced traumatic hurdles this year with Dave spending weeks in and out of hospital in Newcastle, and even being pulled from a heart transplant operation at the last minute.
But now his closest relatives, including George’s mum Louise Sedgwick, 24, have a renewed hope after receiving the news that he is the highest priority for a heart in the whole of the UK.
“I’m feeling hopeful,” he said. “Every time the phone rings I think it could be the call. For now though it’s back to normality. It’s a lot better being at home with my little lad.
“I am feeling very positive. I know the heart is coming now, it’s just when it’s going to.
“I’m really enjoying being at home. Spending five, six, seven days a week in hospital for six weeks is not enjoyable by any stretch. The staff are really lovely but it’s not home. They are right, home is where the heart is. I’m taking a bit of pressure off Louise, staying home and just being a dad.”
Dave’s wait for a transplant has been an agonising one since being told five years ago that without a new heart, he may only have five years to live.
His partner Louise has actively campaigned for people to sign up to the organ donor list in the hope that others may not have to suffer through the same fears as her family.
“He is finally at the top of the list now for the UK,” she said. “If there is an organ available in London they would airlift it back to him. I couldn’t ask for more than that.
“He had an infection so they are trying to get him a new heart before the infection comes back. It could be any day now. It’s lovely having him home for now.
“We haven’t done much, just staying in every day just the three of us.”
Dave and Louise have backed the Government’s pledge to alter the opt-in system in England to opt-out, but for now the family is urging anyone who wishes to donate their organs to register online.
“It’s all done in two and half minutes,” said Dave.
“Three clicks could save up to nine lives. It’s really that simple.”
For more information or to sign up as an organ donor, visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk