This man breaks a world record thanks to his heart

This man breaks a world record thanks to his heart

In England, in the 1980s, a man underwent a heart transplant. Today, he becomes the oldest receiver and breaks a historic record.

This is the story of Bert Janssen, originally from the Netherlands. The man was only 17 years old when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. A disease that affects the heart muscle and reduces the heart's ability to pump blood.

Operated by the transplant pioneer

From the moment of diagnosis, Bert Janssen was placed in good hands. His cardiologist ensured that Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub, a transplant pioneer based in London, could take care of the young man. The operation was then carried out in June 1984, at Harefield Hospital in the British capital. It should be noted, in fact, that at the time, no intervention of this type had yet been carried out in the Netherlands.

Mr Janssen said: “Everything happened really fast. Only a week after arriving in Harefield, two hearts became available following a serious car accident in London. I had a match with one of them and the heart was transplanted.”

A second life for Bert Janssen

The operation was a success. This new heart was able to give a second life to Bert Janssen who was able to continue practicing his favorite sports, such as tennis and volleyball, as well as obtain a full-time job. He then married his wife in 1996 and had two sons, Guido and Ivo, born in 1996 and 2000 respectively.

A memory

Bert Janssen's transplant in 1984 was the 107th transplant performed at Harefield Hospital. Dr Fernando Riesgo Gil, Consultant Cardiologist and Head of the Heart Transplant Service at Harefield Hospital, said: ““It’s fantastic news to learn that one of our first transplant patients at Harefield continues to live such a full and happy life so long after his transplant.”

The cardiologist also hopes that Bert Janssen's story can raise awareness and encourage the public to learn about organ donation and to register as a donor.