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A 30-year-old man discovered he needed a new heart after he borrowed a friend's Fitbit to check his heart rate.
Ryan Gabb, from Wrexham in north Wales, asked to borrow his friend's fitness watch after feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms and breathlessness that he 'couldn't shake off'.
He knew 'something wasn't right', so used the watch to check his heart rate and learned that it was at the maximum end of a healthy range, at more than 100 beats per minute. Most adults have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute, though fitter people can have lower heart rates.
Have a heart-to-heart about organ donation with your loved ones this #Valentines. 💕— NHS Organ Donation💗🫀🫁 (@NHSOrganDonor) February 12, 2022
Families will always be involved before organ donation goes ahead. https://t.co/225qUJN6cK pic.twitter.com/6fMXHHo3pC
Gabb decided to go and get checked out by a doctor in September 2017 and was immediately sent to the local hospital, where he learned he had a disease of the heart muscle called dilated cardiomyopathy.
The condition causes the heart muscle to become stretched and thin, preventing it from pumping blood as well as it should and raising the risk of heart failure, valve problems, an irregular heartbeat and blood clots.
After being diagnosed, Gabb received emergency surgery to be fitted with a heart pump, known as a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), and is now on the waiting list for a heart transplant, where he has remained for nearly four years.
Recalling the moment he learned what treatment he required, Gabb said, 'I couldn't believe what I was hearing and was in complete shock, I knew I hadn't been well but was not expecting anything so serious.'
The 30-year-old has been forced to give up his job as a factory worker as a result of his condition, and though he has said he is 'doing pretty well at the moment' with his heart pump, he noted that 'waiting for a transplant can be hard'.
He continued, 'There is a constant need to have my phone with me and I need a regular electricity supply so my LVAD batteries can be charged. The worry of power cuts is always in the back of my mind.'
Speaking out as part of an NHS campaign, Gabb expressed hope that the year ahead 'can bring some normality', and that 'more people will discuss organ donation with their families and register their decision'.
Anthony Clarkson, director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant, commented, 'Thousands of people across the UK are waiting for the call that a donor has been found to save or transform their life, and hundreds of them need a heart transplant. We encourage everyone to have that heart-to-heart now.
'Talk to your family and tell them your organ donation decision, leave them certain of it. And make sure you know what they would want too, so you can support their decision.'
Dilated cardiomyopathy can be inherited or triggered by uncontrolled high blood pressure, an unhealthy lifestyle and a viral infection.
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