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Jayden's story

Jayden, Henry and Starky - my artificial heart
As I wait now on the heart transplant list, I am filled with mixed emotions.

I am a 47 year old single dad from Sydney. I’ve always enjoyed an active lifestyle, and would describe a perfect afternoon as hitting the cricket nets with my 14 year old son.

In August 2017, I got the flu - like so many other Australians. I thought nothing of it at the time, but the virus attacked my heart and I gradually got sicker. I took myself to my local hospital in Sydney, and within days I was placed on life-support and transported to St Vincent’s Hospital in a coma. My heart simply shut down, along with my liver and kidneys.

Too sick for a heart transplant, my only option was an artificial heart to try and keep me alive until a donor heart became available. I flatlined during surgery, but the amazing team at St Vincent’s brought me back and kept me alive. I woke up from my coma, weeks later, with a mechanical heart.

As I wait now on the heart transplant list, I am filled with mixed emotions. The thought of seeing my son grow up, get married, and have kids of his own inspires me to push beyond my comfort zone and experience life in ways that I probably haven’t done before. In this last 12 months, I’ve climbed mountains, I've run racesI’ve laughed and cried and hugged and kissed.

I’ve chosen not to let myself be defined by this situation. Life doesn't come with any guarantees, and I’ve chosen not to put my life on hold while I wait for that important call... But then there’s that sobering thought; when that call comes, my family will celebrate the most amazing gift of life, while another family faces unimaginable grief.

I often find myself thinking about my future donor. What are they doing right now? What would I say to them if we could meet? Maybe it’s a strange thought - I don’t know if others waiting on the list feel the same way? Regardless, I wanted to write an open letter to the person that will ultimately save my life. 

The gift of life is the most precious thing. To the families that support the decision of the person involved, you are as much a hero as they are. Thank you x

Nicky Burton