The partner of a Wigan dad who remains seriously ill in hospital following major heart surgery has paid tribute to her family and friends for their amazing support.
Dave Hughes, 31, is still in Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, three and a half weeks after undergoing the 12-hour operation to give him a new heart.
Read more: Brave Wigan dad undergoes heart transplant surgery
The dad-of-one from Whelley has battled numerous setbacks since he received the life-changing call on February 23 and the family have been told on more than one occasion that he may not pull through.
But Dave has fought back each time, overcoming hurdle after hurdle. And throughout it all his partner Lousie Sedgwick has been at his bedside willing him to pull through.
After being under sedation for two weeks following his transplant, Dave was finally woken up by surgeons who were concerned that he could suffer brain damage if kept on life support machines for too long.
However, because his heart was not beating alone, Dave was given the shocking news that he would have to have a Berlin heart fitted - a machine which pumps the organ and that if this failed he may have to have another heart transplant.
Louise 24, who has been staying in accommodation provided by the hospital charity, returned home to Whelley for the first time this week to attend a medical appointment of her own as she prepares for gallbladder surgery.
The couple, who have an 18-month-old son George, were apart until Wednesday when she took the 250-mile trip back up north.
Louise said: “He is stable at the moment but he was so scared. He has been writing for the first time today.
“The doctors will decide when it’s time for him to get his Berlin heart. It’s basically what happens each morning.
“There was a shadow on his lung, they thought it was fluid. They found blood clots but they weren’t expecting that.
“As soon as they got rid of it his lung reinflated. The doctors have said they will move to the Berlin heart soon and see how he goes on it.
“He will need to have it for a few months to build his strength back up and in that time, if the heart doesn’t start to work he will go on the super-urgent list for a second heart.
“You only get two chances for a heart transplant because they run out of places to stitch it in so they are trying to hold off on this.”
Over the past month her parents and Dave’s have driven hundreds of miles with George to ensure the youngster can be with his mum as often as possible.
Louise’s dad Tony said: “I felt like an airline pilot one day, we had a 10-minute turn around. She needed to see him though.
“She is doing amazing, to do what she’s doing at her age. We have had a lot of support, the people in Newcastle have been amazing.
“There’s a cafe we go to and the staff are just phenomenal.
“The smallest of things just mean so much.”
Louise added: “Everyone has been so supportive. We couldn’t have managed without them.
“Family and friends and everyone up in Newcastle, they are just amazing.”