An Arbroath man who got a heart transplant aged 35 – thanks to a plea from his daughter to Prince Philip – has now had his ‘new’ heart as long as his old one.
George Boyd turns 70 this Thursday, a milestone he never thought he would reach.
By the age of 33 he had survived a string of heart attacks and a stroke, and in 1984 another big heart attack further impacted on his health.
George was forced to move in and out of hospital and his five children went into care as their mother struggled to care for him.
Doctors in Arbroath soon told him that there was nothing more they could do for his condition – and he claims that he was effectively told to “go home and wait to die”.
Daughter Rhonda Scanlan said: “Because he was so poorly he was in and out of the hospital all the time.
“The doctors up here didn’t think he would be a viable candidate for a transplant because he was so poorly, so I think at one point my mum was told to take him home to die.”
Rhonda’s royal plea
She said: “At that point my mum said I should write to Prince Philip because he was patron of the British Heart Foundation.
“I think we were all worried because I was the eldest of five and we were going through a lot.
“My granny and grandad were having to look after us a lot, we all had to go into foster care and get split up.
“I think it was hard enough for all of us.
“We didn’t know what was happening and it was scary.”
After the letter made it to Prince Philip, plans were eventually put in place for George to undergo an operation in London.
In April 1986 he was given the life-saving surgery by Sir Magdi Yacoub, a renowned surgeon who has treated the likes of comedian Eric Morecambe and Greek prime minister Andreas Papandreou.
Rhonda said: “I think if he didn’t have the transplant he wouldn’t be here.
“At the time there wasn’t much research as to how long people were living after these transplants and it was such a new thing, so I don’t think anyone expected him to still be here.
“He has now had his new heart as long as he had his original heart.”
In the 36 years since his transplant, George has tried to live as close to a normal life as possible.
While he still has underlying health issues, he is capable of activities like driving.
He told The Courier: “It’s day-by-day, but I’m living. That’s it – I’m living.
“I’m grateful to Prince Philip and Dr Yacoub and all the other surgeons that were involved with my care.”
Coincidentally, George’s big birthday comes during Organ Donation Week, which is raising awareness on the issue.