GIFT OF LIFE: Paul Franklin is waiting for donor for a heart transplant while Scott McLoughlin is a heart transplant recipient
GIFT OF LIFE: Paul Franklin is waiting for donor for a heart transplant while Scott McLoughlin is a heart transplant recipient Trevor Veale

Living with a mechanical heart

IMAGINE having to carry around a battery pack to keep your heart beating? Now, imagine you need to wear it all day every day for years.

This is the reality for Coffs Harbour local Paul Franklin has to face every day.

Paul is waiting for a heart transplant and has to constantly wear a Left Ventricle Device (LVAD), a mechanical pump used to ensure his heart function is sufficient to flow blood around his body and to vital organs.

His heart specialists predict he will be on the wait list for up to two years but Paul remains optimistic and said it'll be worth the wait.

"As far as I'm concerned it's a small price to pay for a second chance at life," he said.

Despite his adversities, Paul is trying to lead a reasonably normal life by keeping fighting fit doing regular walks and bike riding.

His family have been a central pillar of support, from the moment he had to heart attack and during his long wait to his heart transplant.

"My wife supports me in so many different ways its hard to say, she helps by carrying all my gear around, she takes me to my doctors appointments and she was there by my bedside along with my children, mother and father through the dark times," he said.

Starting the conversation between your family and friends is essential, Paul explains it's a conversation that gives somebody a second chance at life.

"I would say sit down and have a talk to your family, we've talked to our children about their wishes and basically just have the conversation, have the talk with your wife and you husband, with your children and find out their wishes so if and when that times comes that everybody is aware because somebody out there will give me a second chance at life," he said.

Heart transplant recipient, Coffs local Scott McLaughlin knows all too well the arduous journey to having a heart transplant.

Fitted with the same device as Paul, Scott had deteriorated over a period of 10 years suffering a genetic condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

"My kidneys wouldn't function, my stomach wouldn't function I felt quite sick I'd be dizzy and fatigued all the time. It's quiet debilitating for a person to be in that situation," he said.

Scott said the condition consumes more than just the patient, it impacts your family and loved ones.

"Having a heart condition that sort of plagues your life it does affect your family. It's not just me who benefits from it, my entire family does," he said.

Life is, for donation specialist Dr Michael Sutherland , what organ donation and DonateLife Week is all about.

I think at its essence organ donation is all about life. We're all going to die and this is a way that we can prevent death for people out there who are besieged and suffering and dying who we can potentially save," he said.

Dr Sutherland explained over 90% of studies indicate that Australian's think that donation is "a good cause and a good idea" but said there is a significant drop in terms of interest carrying through to signing up on the register.

"However between that stage of having positive thoughts and actually deciding to register on the organ donor registry there's a fall off in the percentage," he said.

Being on the wait list, Paul has signed up on the register to enable him to help someone else like him in need when the time comes.

"I'm on the donor list because I believe if my time comes, if things don't work out for me somebody else should benefit from that as well," Paul said

To sign up to the register or find out more about DonateLife Week visit donatelife.gov.au.



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