I’m hoping donors will respond to my success
BY JAMES SAVAGE | WORCHESTER NEWS
A WORCESTERSHIRE man who had a heart transplant at the age of 15 is urging people to register as donors to help save more lives.
Ted Bailitis, aged 27, of Crescent Place, Tenbury Wells, said he is very fortunate despite losing a year at school following the operation which threw his education into disarray. He is now adjusting to university life after starting an exercise science and biomedicine degree at Canterbury, Kent.
He recently picked up four medals at the British Tran-splant Games – an Olympic- style event for people who have received organ and bone marrow transplants.
Mr Bailitis was diagnosed at the age of just 15 with cardiomyophy, a relatively rare disease of the heart muscle that can be genetic but is not always.
It can have very few – and in some cases – no symptoms but can result in sudden death which can strike victims often, but not always, when the heart has been put under stress by sport or exercise.
The reason Mr Bailitis was luckier than some is that he had symptoms that enabled the condition to be diagnosed before it was too late.
He said: “I was feeling tired and out of breath. It became difficult to keep up with my friends. That is how we knew something was wrong.
“I was sent to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for tests and a month later had my transplant at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.”
The condition can be associated with fainting but for some victims of cardiomyopathy there is no warning. It causes an enlargement of the heart and degeneration of the heart muscle that becomes inflexible and unable to pump properly.
It is usually diagnosed with an ECG and ultrasound examination of the heart – a painless procedure based upon the technique used to examine pregnant women.
When there is a family history of cardiomyopathy it is important that children are screened during their teen-age years.
Mr Bailitis is fortunate in so far as he was able to have a heart transplant. And perhaps more than anything else he was fortunate in finding a donor quickly.
He is a committed supporter of the British Heart Foun-dation and of the campaign to encourage as many people as possible to register as organ donors.