A Notts dad who is stuck in hospital waiting for a heart transplant has told of his mission to stay positive.
Stuck in hospital as he waits for a new heart – Jim McRury spends all day, every day in the critical care ward that has become a kind of purgatory.
The dad of two from Clipstone is hooked up to a machine that keeps him alive, and hasn’t left care since a heart attack over a month ago.
He now finds himself in the strangest kind of limbo – waiting for a donor. Waiting for someone else to die so he can go home to his family.
The 52-year-old man’s life changed after he had a heart attack on Easter Sunday and his family have scarcely seen him since after he was taken to a specialist cardiothorastic centre in Cambridgeshire.
His wife Lindsay, aged 33, said: “It’s been a shock. It was very out of the blue. We’ve got a toddler and we were thinking of all the fun things we can do over summer.
“I was terrified over that first few days.
“He went to King’s Mill and was transferred to the regional cardiac centre, and within a week he was taken to the specialist hospital in Papworth.”
Jim, who works for Vodaphone, underwent open heart surgery to fit him with a bi-ventricular assist device (BiVAD) – now he remains hooked up to equipment that keeps his heart going. His only option long term is a heart transplant, so the father of two remains in the critical care ward until a donor is found.
But the dad, who loves playing the guitar and has taken up the Ukelele in hospital, wasn’t about to let heart failure hold him back,
Lindsay added: “Papworth were keen to keep him active to help his rehabilitation after the transplant so they offered him an exercise bike and Jim decided he might be able to turn it into a challenge while he’s in there.
Jim has just reached his target of 90 miles - the distance it would take him to return home to his little boy - and he’s now carrying on to see how far he can travel.
He told us: “The support and care I’ve received at Papworth has been amazing, and we wanted to help draw attention to what they are doing here, as they encourage mobilisation wherever possible. Most places that use BiVADs, confine the patient to bed - it is life support, after all.
“My situation is slightly surreal, I had no illness or build up to the heart attack, so the rest of my organs are absolutely fine. This means that I am in a good position to recover once a new heart is available.
“At the moment, I feel perfectly fine, the BiVADs are doing the job of my heart, but everything else is absolutely fine.
“It does get a little frustrating as I feel like I can just get up and get on with my life. Then I see the four pipes that come out of my chest to the external pumps.”
But the ordeal has also brought the couple together in a way. Jim and Lindsay were married on April 11, within the confines of the critical care ward while Jim was on life support.
Lindsay said: “It was surreal. Probably not how we originally pictured our wedding day but it was lovely.
“We talked about getting married for a couple of years - we hadn’t really got round to it, so after we realised he was going to have a transplant we thought there was no time like the present.”
But being 90 miles from home takes its toll as Lindsay visits as regularly as she can, while juggling her career in care and looking after Callum.
Jim, who also has an older daughter, told: “It is hard, we Skype every morning and evening. But I have to say, I think it is harder for Linz than me, as I don’t have any choice and for her to come and see me she has to leave Callum with someone, so she has to choose who to let down.”
Said Lindsay: “They play peekaboo on a daily basis, but Callum is a bit confused as to why daddy now lives in a tablet.”
But the hardest thing is waiting for a donor, she added: “It’s frustrating because there’s no end to it. They have no way of knowing how long it will take so it’s indefinite, and that’s quite hard, but we’re staying positive.
“I’m incredibly proud of him,” she said in praise of her new husband. “He’s absolutely inspirational and the amount of effort he’s putting into the cycling is great. He’s hit his target, which is pretty good for someone in heart failure.”
Now Jim has set new targets - first to get to Yorkshire and then another 340 miles to Oban in Scotland he was born. “But we are really hoping he gets a transplant before then,” added Lindsay.
And as the newlyweds battle their strange situation, they are calling for all people to bear in mind the importance of registering as an organ donor. Lindsay has signed up as a result of what they’re going through, and says it’s a crucial step to help someone should the worst happen to you.
She added: “People don’t generally find themselves in need of an organ. It’s only when you come into contact with this you realise how much you can help someone.”