Heart transplant record is ‘remarkable’


The surgeon who operated on the world’s longest-surviving heart transplant patient has said surviving “in excess of 30 years” was “remarkable”

John McCafferty, 73, died on Tuesday, 33 years after his operation.

Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub performed Mr McCafferty’s transplant at Harefield Hospital, west London, on 20 October 1982.

Sir Magdi said surgeons did not know at the time “how long patients [could] survive after transplantation”.

Mr McCafferty lived in Newport Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, but was originally from Shotts in North Lanarkshire.

He had been diagnosed at 39 with dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle.

He was told he had five years to live when he received the transplant.

But in 2013 he was recognised as the world’s longest surviving heart transplant patient by Guinness World Records.

Sir Magdi said the five-year prognosis had been estimated.

“John showed quite clearly that people can survive in excess of 30 years… so that’s remarkable,” Sir Magdi said.

“It shows how transplantation can give life and that’s entirely due to the generosity of the British public, the donor family that is.”

The British Heart Foundation said more than three-quarters of heart transplant patients lived for more than five years.

Mr McCafferty’s widow Ann said the years they had together after his heart transplant were “brilliant”.

But she said: “He was in pain for the last three years of his life and was taken to hospital in Milton Keynes on 27 January. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to return home.”