Military veteran Kenneth Morris is one of a handful of people who have received pioneering transplant surgery at the Freeman Hospital, made possible by the “heart in a box” equipment purchased by the Red Sky Foundation.

This is his story in his own words..

While quietly enjoying a sandwich and a pint of beer my telephone rang, I answered it even though there was no caller ID, something I wouldn’t normally do.

Hi, is that Kenneth This is the transplant co-ordinator from the Freeman,” said a voice.

“Yes,” I said suspiciously.

“Good, Can you make it to the Freeman Hospital as soon as possible we have a heart for you.”

GULP, “Yes I’m on my way”

Not the sort of telephone conversation you expect to have while at Manchester Airport waiting to fly out to Rome to meet your partner, not the first time I had failed to meet her in Rome but a better excuse than I fell asleep  and missed my flight – which is what happened last time, this was without doubt a much better excuse.

With a dry mouth and fear running through me like water I set of on a train journey filled with thoughts, fears and doubts as to my real need or whether I was worthy of such a huge offer of life.

This opportunity would not have been possible without the Red Sky Foundation and the skill and professionalism of all of the transplant team at the Freeman Hospital. They were about to embark on the very first D.C.D. – Donation after Circulatory Death – which is where a heart from a deceased person is kept alive thanks to a piece of equipment bought and paid for by the Red Sky Foundation.

I was the volunteer but as I knew I was dying of heart failure what did I have to lose. I had been kept alive by medication and implanted defibrillators for over 20 years but now the heart was finally having its own way – or so it thought.

I was rushed into surgery and the operation was a huge success – giving me a new lease of life.

Here I am 18 months on and preparing to carry out the “Red Sky 100km Walk” followed by a traverse of Hadrian’s Wall from Carlisle Infirmary to the Freeman Hospital. 

It must be said that without the support and skills of everyone at the Transplant Centre of The Freeman Hospital and the generosity of everyone who has contributed in every way to the Red Sky fund raising efforts, I simply wouldn’t be here today.

“Thank You from the bottom of my “new” heart.”