Images: The machine flown over from Germany to keep Wigan dad's heart beating
A brave Wigan dad who has been in hospital since a gruelling heart transplant has been fitted with a mechanical organ in a bid to allow his body to recover.
Dave Hughes, 32, is in Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital almost two months after the initial 12-hour operation, but the transplanted organ is struggling to work properly.
On Monday morning, the dad-of-one from Whelley was visited by a team of surgeons from Germany who brought a Berlin Heart which will pump the blood around his body to allow time for his new organ to start to beat.
Dave’s wife, Louise, is back by her new husband’s side after the pair got married just four weeks ago in a special hospital ceremony attended by just nine people.
She said: "The next few months in hospital will be hard but worth it."
"But he’s just amazing. There’s always a smile on his face."
Her husband, father to the couple’s 19-month-old son George, was taken in for a preoperative meeting with hospital surgeons and the German scientists, where they explained the two-hour procedure.
Shortly after, Dave was taken into theatre but doctors soon discovered that the tubes were not an appropriate length and the surgery was aborted.
In an incredible move by the hospital and the Berlin Heart team, thousands of pounds of equipment was flown over from the German capital that day so that the crucial surgery could go ahead while Dave still had the strength.
Finally, after a nail-biting wait, Louise received the news that her husband was going into surgery at around 8.30pm last night.
The procedure, which was wrapped up an hour later, was a success and will allow Dave to build up his strength after weeks in a hospital bed. Louise said: "The Berlin Heart has a pulse so it could get his heart back beating again. If not it will make him stronger for a second transplant. He can also start to learn to walk again.
"It’s taken over his heart now so it’s like life support."
The machine simulates the function of a heart, but is placed on the outside of Dave’s body and needs to be carried around with him.
Because of this, all of Dave’s physiotherapy and recovery will have to take place in hospital - meaning that the young family will have to wait months before they can be reunited at home.
"We’re just used to it now, so we have a little cry every so often but we manage to carry on and try to stay as positive as we can," added Louise.
The mum-of-one, who is currently travelling the length and breadth of the country to watch over both Dave and their son George, has also spent her time campaigning for organ donation awareness.
During Dave’s journey she has been approached by people who have signed the register to make sure that other critically-ill patients have a chance at a new life.
To sign the register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk
Louise’s parents, Kathy and Tony Sedgwick, are now hoping to raise thousands of pounds for the hospital transplant charity which has helped their daughter and son-in-law since day one of their gruelling journey.
The couple will host a charity golf day on July 20 at Wigan Golf Club in aid of Freeman Heart and Lung Transplant Association.
Tony is calling all keen golfers to sign up to the tournament for Â£160, which includes a hog roast.
There will also be a social event taking place in the evening with a raffle. Anyone wishing to donate prizes for the raffle should contact Wigan Golf Club.