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Man steps out on 15k walk after successful heart transplant

PUBLISHED: 17:41 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:48 28 August 2018

Lee Yaxley who is recovering from a heart transplant and walking 15k on Saturday Photo: Lee Yaxley

Lee Yaxley who is recovering from a heart transplant and walking 15k on Saturday Photo: Lee Yaxley

Lee Yaxley

As organ donation week approaches a former chef knows only too well the importance of the ‘gift of life’.

Lee Yaxley with one of his consultants at Papworth Photo: Lee YaxleyLee Yaxley with one of his consultants at Papworth Photo: Lee Yaxley

Lee Yaxley has spent decades on and off the transplant list, the see-sawing health of his heart making it difficult to plan his treatment or even commit to the life-saving operation.

But last Christmas as he deliberated over a new sofa in Norwich the call finally came and he was blue-lighted to Papworth Hospital in Cambridge.

The double failing of a battery-powered pump had propelled him to the front of the emergency transplant queue and after two months in hospital he finally came home to Ashby, near Somerleyton.

“In general people think once you have had a transplant you are back to normal,” he said.

“But it is a minimum of a year to get back to anything like you were before.

“Now I would say I was about 85pc of what I was six years ago.

“What really got me going was that I had no get up and go and I thought ‘I am going to have to do something.’

“So then I decided I would do a walk and I got an app on my phone and that was it.”

MORE: Eccles man one in only 60 to have four-organ transplant

Mr Yaxley is setting off on Saturday from his home and making his way to Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach, a landmark point where he spent many happy hours as a child.

So far he has done six walks of over 12k and one of 15k to make sure he can go the distance.

Training has been tough and means he is not gaining weight having dropped to a 10.5 stone shadow of his usual self.

Mr Yaxley was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in 1993, a condition he inherited from his father who died at just 52.

The condition was also passed on to his younger sister who died two years ago, having lived with her transplanted heart for a quarter of a century.

In the last three months Mr Yaxley has walked 250km and says he couldn’t have done it without the support of his wife Susan, daughter Natalie and my granddaughter Jessica.

His fundraising total is nudging £500 with more money pledged which will be donated to Papworth Hospital.

He has raised money as a thank you in the past for one simple reason: “They saved my life,” he said.

On the day he will be joined by family members as well as nurses from Papworth and the James Paget Hospital.

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