Local man receives gift of life
By Daisy Baker
May 01, 2019
ON March 30, Scottsdale-raised Aaron Worker received a life-changing phone call: after several months on the wait list for a heart transplant, a compatible heart had become available.
Aaron was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital and his partner Jayd Whatmough and their four-year-old son Mason joined him in Melbourne the next day.
Unsure if the surgery would go ahead, they kept the news under-wraps.
After six hours, the heart transplant surgery was complete with few complications.
“Given that this was technically my third open heart surgery within eight months, it meant longer recovery and higher pain levels,” he said.
“Managing the pain is also more difficult as I was woken up much quicker with less time to heal my ribs.”
Aaron has had cardiomyopathy, a disease which affects the way the heart muscle pumps, since he was 14.
It was caused by the after effects of chemotherapy he received to treat a neuroblastomer when he was four.
In August last year, while attending a routine appointment for his cardiomyopathy at the Alfred Hospital, he suffered a massive heart attack.
“Aaron was worked on for quite sometime before being revived and he then was placed in a coma for two weeks on a temporary mechanical heart pump, hoping the heart would recover enough to pump by itself again,” Jayd said.
“Unfortunately this was not the case and permanent mechanical heart pump was installed.
“Aaron was then woken up slowly. He was very weak and all muscle tone had wasted away.”
After several months of recovery, including learning to walk again, Aaron was deemed fit enough to be place back on the waiting list for a transplant.
One month after receiving his transplant, Aaron is making good progress with his recovery in Melbourne, where he is attending rehab three days a week for three months, having weekly biopsies and learning how to care for his new heart.
“A lot of people don’t understand that a transplant does make you better and like new, but really it is just another medical condition you have to deal with – I will need life-long anti-rejection medication and regular biopsies for 12 months to check for rejection.
“And [I have to take] lots of precautions around food, diet and cooking. So no eating out unless it’s cooked fresh, no soft cheeses, soft eggs, no deli meats unless they’re pre-packed and the list goes on and my immune system is completely suppressed with medications because if my body figures out it’s not my heart, it will try to kick it out.”
Aaron encouraged anyone who is not yet an organ donor to take a few minutes to register at Donate Life, to give a life-changing gift to someone in need.
The family still have several months in Melbourne before Aaron is healthy enough to come home and you can support them by donating to their campaign, Aaron’s Heart Trasnplant Recovery, at www.mycause.com.au