Heart Transplant recipient Chris Laurie remembers his surgery 32 years ago.
Heart Transplant recipient Chris Laurie remembers his surgery 32 years ago.

Heart transplant 14 years to day of dad’s death

SEPTEMBER 16, 1987, is a date close to Chris Laurie's heart.

It was the day a life was lost but a life was saved.

It was the day the Logan man will always remember as the day he woke up with a new heart.

Mr Laurie, who was then 21 years old, had been at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney for three weeks after contracting a viral infection of the heart a year before.

He had been fighting the virus for a year and was finding it hard to breathe and tough to do anything at all.

Doctors had told his mother to prepare for the worst.

However, just after 10.30pm on September 14, staff at the hospital told him he would be getting a new heart.

A 24-year-old Wollongong man who had died was an organ donor and his heart was donated and put on ice and flown to the hospital.

By 3am on September 15, world famous heart surgeon Dr Victor Chang had briefed Mr Laurie's mother and the surgery was under way.

Hours later, the new heart recipient was in recovery but it wasn't until September 16, the 14th anniversary of his father's death, that Mr Laurie woke.

"My mother was there - it had been a very difficult time for her as it was the anniversary of my father's death and she was sitting there waiting for me to wake up," Mr Laurie said.

"After the operation, the doctors told her the damage to my heart had been so great that I would probably have only survived for another week."

Mr Laurie, first became sick on Mother's day 1986 and was listed for a heart transplant in July 1987.

At the time of his diagnosis, the dental technician was very fit, and had been playing lots of squash, swimming and surfing so the diagnosis was "a real shock".

But he is thankful for his new lease on life and his son Branden was the first child of a heart transplant recipient.

 

Reagan, 27, Keely, 24, and Branden, 30 with their dad Chris Laurie.
Reagan, 27, Keely, 24, and Branden, 30 with their dad Chris Laurie.

 

There are currently 90 people waiting for a heart transplant in Queensland.

Mr Laurie's transplant journey is one of the stories that will be retold during DonateLife Week, which runs from Sunday, July 28 to Sunday, August 4.

To mark the occasion and raise funds, DonateLife is holding its Amazing Race Around Brisbane, which starts at Queens Gardens, 44 George St, Brisbane on Sunday, July 28, from 10am.

This year the DonateLife Qld team is hosting 10 teams to race from the CBD to South Bank to raise awareness for organ and tissue donation.