Family welcome 'great gift' of new heart for son
A 20-year-old Bristol student has undergone a heart transplant after months of waiting for a suitable donor organ.
Will Pope, 20, had been waiting since August for the vital surgery.
His parents and siblings now face an anxious wait as he recovers from the operation.
They said the heart is a "great gift" and while they welcome the boost it gives their son's chances, they have sympathy for the family who lost a loved one meaning it could be donated.
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Will has been at the Harefield Hospital – a renowned cardiothoracic and transplant centre in Middlesex – since August 28 hoping a heart could be found.
And on New Year's Eve it was announced via his web page that a suitable heart had been found and that Will had undergone an operation and was beginning his recovery.
But Will's father Philip, an actor and composer, who grew up in Clevedon, said that far from celebrating the family including wife Rosie, and Will's brothers Matthew, 17 and Guy, 14, face an anxious wait to see if he pulls through.
He said: "It is of course good news but Will has had the operation and is still in a very critical condition. It is a very sad day for the family whom the heart belonged to and we consider it a great gift.
"He was offered the heart on New Year's day and was operated on but is in a critical condition.
"We are not in a position to say how it will progress now. It is a very slow and long process."
Will had first fallen ill at school in 2009 and was taken to hospital with heart failure.
No cause has ever been found by doctors but it is believed it is likely a virus had attacked his heart.
He was so ill surgeons had to wait two days before he was stable enough to operate and install a heart pump.
The pump combined with drug therapy allowed Will's heart to recover sufficiently for the device to be removed that year.
Will then completed his A-levels and started in September 2011 at the University of Bristol where he is doing a degree in classical civilisation. He lives in Clifton.
At the end of his first year Will undertook the London to Mongolia Rally but on his return immediately fell ill again and underwent five operations to install pumps to keep him alive. Since August 28 he has been at Harefield Hospital in urgent need of a heart transplant.
In November, with the search for a heart becoming increasingly desperate, Will's family contacted The Post to appeal for more youngsters to sign the organ donor register.
They said although nine out of 10 people agree with organ donation only three actually sign up to the organ donor register meaning appropriate organs are in short supply.
Will had been on the urgent heart transplant list but doctors had to find a heart that meets tissue, blood group and age criteria – giving it the best chance of not being rejected.
â For more information or to join the Organ Donation register visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk.