Andrew and Lauren were married on 25th November 2012 they were both 32 and excited about starting their new life together. They flew to a remote island in the Maldives for their honeyumoon a few days later. Andrew felt unwell on the plane but they both thought it was a hangover. Andrew became increasingly unwell suffering severe sickness and dehydration. He became so ill the local doctor arranged a speed boat to the hospital in the Capital Male, where he had a cardiac arrest. Lauren had to buy drugs and bedding and was charged thousands of pounds before they would treat her new husband, thankfully a porter from the hotel used his house as assurance whilst the travel insurance confirmed they could cover the costs. Andrew had three further cardiac arrests and was defibrillated and intubated.
The doctors in Male advised Andrews condition was too serious for them to maintain and they needed to transfer him to a specialist hospital as they did not have the equipment to keep him alive. The travel insurance company organised an air ambulance to the Bangkok Heart hospital, a four hour flight. His parents flew to Bangkok not knowing what they would find. Andrew was unconscious and intubated. The doctors inserted a balloon heart pump to stabilise his condition and this allowed his other organs to repair.
After 7 weeks of rollercoaster treatment in Bangkok, Andrew was airlifted to the UK in a Lufthansa jumbo jet that had a specialist intensive care pod. A wing tip to wing tip transfer at Frankfurt got Andrew to Northolt and a blue light ambulance journey finally to Harefield hospital. After a few days assessment Andrew was given a CRTD (Cardiac Remodelling Therapy Device) also known as an ICD – a small electrical device implanted near his collar bone that had leads going to his heart. If his heart went into arrhythmia the device would pace it back and if still going too fast would shock it back. It was hoped that this would also improve his heart strength and after a month and Andrew went home.
Andrew became weaker over the next four weeks and he was unable to do anything he could hardly walk or eat. He was called into the hospital for a transplant assessment but the doctors became so concerned about his health they transferred him to intensive care immediately where he was put back onto the balloon pump. He was too unwell for a transplant and so he had a LVAD -left ventricular assist device, essentially an artificial electronic heart fitted through open heart surgery. The LVAD was extremely effective in supporting his heart and he gained more strength and energy. He was allowed home again but The LVAD was not a permanent solution and although it supported the left side of his heart the right side began to fail. Andrew was hospitalised and spent seven months waiting for an urgent heart transplant at Hare field hospital. Kevin Mashford was very supportive during this time, sharing his experience and offering advice and coping techniques. He also sent movies and boxsets to deal with the boredom.
In September 2013 Andrew was lucky enough to receive a heart transplant. The doctors used a revolutionary new system called the OCS (organ care system) which profuses the donor heart with blood and allows them to see how well it works.
Andrew and Lauren will never be able to find the words to express how grateful they are to his donor and family and they think about them every day. The couple had been advised that it may not be possible for them to have children due to the medication and trauma his body had been through but Lauren discovered she was pregnant only a month after Andrew had left hospital and heir son Frank Fabio was born on 13th October 2014. He would not be here if it was not for Andrews’s incredible donor and they are so happy to have this second chance as a family.
To read Andrew and Lauren’s full story download Lauren’s amazing book here