MORE than 70 Scottish heart transplant patients came together recently to celebrate Christmas at a Clydebank hospital.

The festive lunch rounded off a record year for heart transplantation at the NHS Golden Jubilee in Dalmuir.

Forty transplants were carried out in 2022-23 by specialists in the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service (SNAHFS) based in the town.

This figure officially makes the hospital the highest volume provider in the UK for the past year.

To cap an incredible year off the team welcomed 76 heart transplant patients to get together, and share their stories, memories, and experiences.

Clydebank Post: Megan Geddes, a Dalmuir woman who is one of the transplant recipients, told of her “second chance at life” following her transplant in 2022.

The 30-year-old recently began her new career working with a training provider for the Merchant Navy.

She said: “I’m very grateful to have my transplant so young as I was told that I might not have lived past the age of 35, so I’m extremely grateful for this second chance at life.

“To come along to the Christmas lunch, I didn’t even get to eat my soup before I was crying.

"It’s just so nice to see everyone so happy. Regardless of what they’ve been through, they could all get together and enjoy the moment.

“Sometimes I feel guilty when I think about my donor. I can only hope I’m doing them proud by getting on with life and making the most of it.

“I feel like my transplant isn’t my whole story. For so long it was always ‘Oh, you’re unwell, how are you?’

"Now it’s ‘you look great, you’re working’. I went to a concert a few weeks ago for my 30th birthday, and to just be able to dance around for 2 and a half hours felt amazing.

"It feels like a new chapter.”

Innovations in techniques and advancements in technology, such as an Organ Care System (Heart in a Box) to allow surgeons to transplant hearts from donors who die after circulatory death, have increased the availability of hearts for transplant.

This has also boosted the success rate which is currently at 95 percent for 90-day survival.

Registration for organ donation has also been higher in Scotland over the last two years following the opt-out change in the law in 2021.  

Jonathan Dalzell, consultant cardiologist and SNAHFS clinical lead said: “This has been an incredible year for the service.

“Not only does this represent the highest number of transplants ever to be carried out in the 15 years since the service came to NHS Golden Jubilee, but the most in the history of Scotland.

“This also marks the first time our service has ever been the highest volume provider in the UK.

"To accomplish this despite being the smallest service in the UK is directly down to the exceptional teamwork, expertise and dedication of everyone involved.

“To top this year off by welcoming so many people, all of whom are still here thanks to the remarkable work of the team over the years, and the generosity of donors who have literally given the gift of life, at Christmas time is amazing.

“To see them all in one room, sharing what they’ve been through and embracing life, is remarkable to see.”