Man seeks gift of new heart for Christmas

Clifford James in his hospital bed
Clifford James in his hospital bed

A man who has been in hospital for 20 weeks says his Christmas wish is to receive the heart transplant he has needed for the past two years.

Clifford James, 51, from Waddesdon, who was born with a congenital heart defect, was given an artificial heart two years ago after suffering end stage heart failure.

However, Mr James’ artificial heart is not functioning fully, meaning he has to stay in hospital when he otherwise would have lived at home, while he continues to wait for a new heart.

He said: “It is very unusual to have problems with an artificial heart so I am a bit unlucky to be honest.

“Although the issue is only intermittent they are keeping me in hospital as a precaution to be on the safe side.

“I could have an operation to change to another artificial heart but it would be quite a big one and there are risks involved.

“As a result of my artificial heart being faulty, I have now been transferred from the waiting list to the urgent list.”

Artificial hearts are used as a short-term measure while patients are waiting for a new heart.

Mr James, who runs the wine warehouse at Waddesdon Manor said that the artifical heart was crucial to ensuring his survival.

He said: “Physically, I would only be functioning at 5% without the artificial heart.

“Artificial hearts are extremely good and sometimes it feels like I have a proper heart.

“The longest that somebody is known to have survived on an artificial heart is between seven and eight years.”

Mr James, who is staying at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex, the largest specialist heart centre in the UK, added he was managing to keep himself occupied during his long stay in hospital.

He said: “I have joined the gym and the choir and I am also doing various other volunteering activities at the hospital as it helps me pass the time.

“After a while, you ge=t used to the routine and it starts to feel like a home.”

Mr James added that the hospital had not completed many heart transplants during his stay there.

He said: “There are many people who require heart transplants, and donating one is probably one of the greatest gifts you can give over Christmas.”