A MAN who had a heart transplant 24 years ago and has made the most of being able to lead an active life has been awarded the British Heart Foundation’s heart hero award, writes Amy Dennis.
Mick Foster, 72, who has spent time living in Bude and now lives in Paignton, estimates he has raised more than £30,000 for the British Heart Foundation (BHF) since the heart transplant in 1993.
After receiving a new heart, Mr Foster said he has been taking part in very active challenges to try and raise donor awareness and by way of thanking his own donor — a 14-year-old boy who was killed in a traffic collision.
Mr Foster says of remembering his donor, ‘it always comes back to you’, adding: “He saved quite a lot of lives — he donated his kidneys, lungs.”
Mr Foster was nominated for a heart hero award by his friend Jim Baker and received many votes from people in this area.
Michael was recognised for his inspirational achievements after having a heart transplant in 1993. Since that life-saving procedure he has completed an incredible series of challenges that would have tested the most seasoned sportsman.
Michael has won medals at the Transplant Games, run 26 marathons in 26 days and at the age of 70 completed the six peaks in under 60 hours.
When speaking to the Post, Mr Foster said he was waiting to take part in the British Transplant Games playing tennis and in various athletic competitions. The games were held in North Lanarkshire from July 27 to 30. Over that weekend he won gold medals in 100m, 200m and 400m sprinting as well as gold medals in tennis and long jump. He was awarded a silver plaque for Outstanding Super Veteran Male and a trophy for the Best Heart Transplantee at the games.
He said after being ill all of those years ago, suffering a heart attack, and being told he would ‘never work again’, he was suddenly gifted with time to be able to take part in active sports at a high level.
He said: “I had a heart attack and it damaged three quarters of the heart and they couldn’t repair it or do a bypass. They said it’s no good putting new parts in an old engine — it wouldn’t work.
“I was lucky to get one after a few months on the list. They said you will never work again but I have been. I still build houses and still work hard. I got this second chance.”
The BHF’s heart hero awards recognise and celebrate the supporters, fundraisers, volunteers and partners who have made an exceptional contribution to the fight against heart disease.
The presentation was made at the BHF’s supporter day event at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, one of the charity’s key centres for cardiovascular research.
Simon Gillespie, chief executive at the BHF, said: “For over 20 years Michael has supported others who face the same challenge to their health. He’s also proven that great achievements can still be made after a transplant.
“Today, thanks to advances in surgery, more people like Michael are able to benefit from this type of life-saving operation. And it is because of his example that we remain determined to fund the research that will transform the lives of other people affected by heart conditions.”