The UK’s oldest living heart transplant patient has paid tribute to the NHS as he celebrated his 90th birthday on Sunday.
Ted Warner had the operation at Cambridge’s Royal Papworth hospital in 1990 after suffering from heart disease and being told he had only three weeks to live.
Remarkably, 31 years later, he is the oldest surviving person in the UK to have had a heart transplant.
The grandfather from near Leicester said having the operation was like being “born again” and paid tribute to the NHS.
“Heart transplants were still relatively new back then and something you read about in a paper or saw on the news,” he told PA Media.
“It was quite remarkable, my breathing was so much clearer. My heart was so bad that anything would have been an improvement, but it was honestly like being born again, like I was 16 for a second time.”
He added: “I am so grateful for the care I’ve received. The NHS really is the best in the world.”
While others who have undergone heart transplants have survived longer – the record is 37 years – Warner is now the oldest living person in Britain to have had the surgery.
The hospital, which performed the UK’s first heart transplant in 1979, confirmed the record with NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which has oversight of national data.
Warner, a retired businessman, said he will always be grateful to the family of the man whose heart was donated to him.
“You can’t ever put into words how kind, generous and unselfish he and his family are for donating his heart to somebody he doesn’t know,” he said.
His hobbies include playing golf and clay pigeon shooting. Having turned 90 in June, Warner finally had the opportunity on Sunday to celebrate the milestone with his family.
The operation has allowed him to spend more time with his two sons, Neil and Adam, and he now also has three grandchildren.
His sons said their father is a “remarkable man”, adding: “We are so fortunate to have had him around for such a long time after his transplant, giving us many precious years as a family when he and mum could make more memories together and spend time with their grandchildren as they grew up.”
Warner, whose wife Annette died in 2019, still visits Royal Papworth hospital twice a year for his post-transplant checkups.
Dr Jayan Parameshwar, who has worked in the hospital’s transplant unit since 1991 and attended the birthday celebration, said: “Ted is a perfect advert for what heart transplantation can achieve.
“He’s made full use of his extra 31 years so far, keeping busy and active even at the age of 90.”
The surgeon who performed the operation, Francis Wells, also attended the celebration, and it was the first time the two men had met since 1990.
There are 77 recorded cases of heart transplant patients surviving for longer than 30 years, according to NHSBT.