The Weekend Sun, New Zealand

Published: 18th July 2008

How can you mend a broken heart?

Stu Watson is a survivor. Born in 1966 with both his main arteries reversed, Stu had his first heart operation when he was just eight days old, and his second just before his third birthday.

After that his heart was constantly working under stress until late 2006 when he suffered a small disruption to his heart rhythms. Then last June he suffered five ventricular tachycardia episodes and had to have a temporary defibrillator/pacemaker implanted. Stu was told he would require a heart transplant to save his life.

With his energy gone, Stu had to give up his employment and get plenty of rest each day, but instead of dwelling on his shortcomings, he gained a new lease on life.

“I woul

dn’t say it was one of those things where I woke up and thought everything I had been doing was wrong, but it changed my way of looking at life and gave me a better understanding of both life and death.

“If someone asks what’s wrong with me I say ‘nothing a new heart wouldn’t fix’. And when they say it’s good to see you I say ‘it’s good to be seen’.”

Stu and his daughters Danielle, 9, and Harriette,6 are waiting for the phone call with that could save his life.

While waiting for his operation Stu has found he wants to help other people, so he has joined the committee of Heart Children Bay of Plenty, a charity providing support for children with congenital heart disorders and their families. He is now helping others with similar conditions to the one he was born with.

As Stu awaits a call from Greenlane Hospital in Auckland to tell him the right heart is available, he is working to raise awareness of the Heart Children organisation and the issues faced by those with congenital heart defects.

“There is an urgent need for more organ donors. There is an average of 20 heart transplants carried out each year and more donors are needed. We also probably need a better way for people to register their wish to donate their organs in a way that allows their families to be aware that this is what they want.”

Stu says Heart Children BOP is now about to extend its services to adults with congenital heart conditions as well.

“There are a lot of adults out there with congenital heart conditions and many of them may not have support group to turn to. We would like to be able to offer them support, advice or just someone to talk to and have a laugh with.”

You can find more about Heart Children BOP at www.heartchildren.org.nz/tauranga

By Ken Usmar

To view the article on the website, click the link below:

www.thesun.co.nz/The_Weekend_Sun

UPDATE: On the 20th March 2009, Stuart received the call that he would get his new heart.

To read Stuart’s personal story click here