Guinness World Records: Longest-surviving heart transplant patient recognised

The longest-surviving heart transplant patient has been recognised by Guinness World Records.

Bert Janssen, 57, from the Netherlands, has survived almost 40 years with the donor heart he received at Harefield Hospital in Uxbridge, north-west London, in the 1980s.

He was treated for cardiomyopathy, which affects the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body.

He said he was “still grateful for the incredible gift” his donor gave him.

Mr Janssen was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy after he developed flu-like symptoms when he was 17.

His cardiologist in his home country had ties with Harefield Hospital and transplant pioneer Prof Sir Magdi Yacoub, who carried out the operation on 6 June 1984.

The procedure had not been carried out in the Netherlands at the time.Mr Janssen, who was 18 when he had the operation, said: “It all went very fast. Only a week after arriving at Harefield, two hearts became available from a major car accident in London.

“I had a match with one of these and the heart was transplanted.”

Mr Janssen said after the operation, he was able to quickly “return to a good quality of life”.

The married father of two, who is a keen air glider, said it felt like an “honour” to have reached the record-breaking milestone.

“I could never imagine I would come this far,” he said.

“What I think is most important is that I set a benchmark for others. It is now officially proved that it is possible to come this far while having a donor heart.

“I assume the marker will yet move quite a bit further and I will be pleased if others will break my record in due course.”

His operation was the 107th transplant at Harefield Hospital.

The first was carried out by Sir Magdi in 1980 and the centre has since completed thousands of transplants, with 54 taking place in 2022-23.

Dr Fernando Riesgo Gil, consultant cardiologist and lead of the heart transplantation service at Harefield Hospital, said: “It is fantastic news to hear that one of our early Harefield transplant patients continues to live such a full and happy life so long after his transplant.”

According to data on the NHS Blood and Transplant website, there were 7,314 adults on the active transplant waiting list in the UK as of last week, along with 248 patients under the age of 18.

Of the total, 334 are waiting for hearts.


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