After 30 bonus years, Carol meets transplant surgeon who saved her

A woman whose heart and lungs were replaced in a pioneering transplant operation 30 years ago has celebrated the anniversary of her surgery by reuniting with the doctor who saved her life.

Carol Town, 63, whose heart and lungs were replaced in a life-saving transplant operation celebrates the 30th anniversary of her surgery by reuniting with Professor John Wallwork, the doctor who transformed her life.

Carol Town, 63, who now lives in York, had hoped the operation at Papworth Hospital in Camb­ridgeshire would give her four extra years of life, which, she said, felt like a long time.

The next three bonus decades allowed her to have a son and watch him grow up, build a career in counselling and take up mountain climbing. Last year she scaled her first peak, Pen-y-Ghent in the Yorkshire Dales.

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She met her surgeon, Prof John Wallwork, at a celebratory reception at Pembroke College, Cambridge.

She had been diagnosed at five with the rare condition, Eisenmenger’s syndrome, which leads to irreversible lung damage. At the time, there was nothing that could be done to treat the disease and most patients died before they reached 30.

She spent her childhood in and out of hospital, suffering extreme breathlessness, heart failure and later asthma.

Mrs Town, who is now retired, said: “The transplant gave me so much. It completely transformed my life and allowed me to do things I never thought possible.

“I’ll probably never know who it was who donated their heart and lungs to me but I am so grateful to them for giving me a second chance at life.”

Prof Wallwork said: “Carol’s operation took place just a few years after I performed the first successful heart-lung transplant in Europe, but since then we have carried out more than a thousand life-saving transplants here at Papworth.

“As a surgeon it is incredibly rewarding to see a former patient enjoy such a good quality of life and I wish Carol many healthy and happy years to come.”