Gordon Foster from Thornholme was aged just 30 and months away from his wedding day when he had his first heart attack.
In the years that followed he experienced three further heart attacks, before doctors said he would need a heart transplant.
Gordon’s self-esteem took a devastating blow following the grim news, and outlook on like became bleak.
Determined not to let his poor health affect his daily life, he threw himself into his work as a welder.
But his depression caused him to recoil from his family – spending hundreds of hours a week at work and being away from home for up to seven weeks.
His inability to talk about his mental and physical wellbeing led him to feel a low sense of self-worth, which he struggled to deal with on a daily basis.
But all that has changed for Gordon, now 59, who now has a new lease of life thanks to pioneering new stem cell surgery .
He said: “I will forever be thankful to the Heart Cells Foundation, and the work of the team at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, as without them I believe I wouldn’t be here today and I’m enjoying every moment I spend with my wife and children.”
The surgery Gordon received followed nearly 30 years of misery and ill health.
He had been told that he was not eligible for a transplant, because his heart was operating at 17 % functionality and not the required rate of 16%.
Not only did this leave Gordon devastated, but he lost any hope of recovery he once had, and his employers were left with no choice but to make him redundant.
They told Gordon that should something happen to him whilst at work, they could be liable for corporate manslaughter.
Gordon’s home had to be specially adapted with a stair lift – and a downstairs bathroom was constructed to help ease the struggle of getting from one room to the next.
As Gordon’s health declined his cardiologist informed him of the Stem Cell Research Trial, funded by the Heart Cells Foundation, and which offered a revolutionary research programme treating patients with heart failure, through stem cell therapy.
Gordon was placed in a placebo group so he did not receive the treatment.
But he received a call from the Foundation offering the revolutionary treatment after the trials were over.
Surgery began the very next week for Gordon and he became the first person in the country to receive the treatment.
And within a week of the operation, Gordon no longer needed to use his stair lift, his daily tasks such as walking up the stairs and doing housework became easier and he was able to enjoy spending time with his wife and children in a way that he was not able to do previously.
Gordon added: “Not only has the stem cell treatment I received helped to improve my physical health, but it has also massively improved my
mental health and I now live every day with hope for the future.”