AN ACCRINGTON man is celebrating the anniversary of his life-saving heart transplant – by throwing a party.
Anthony Clark, 35, of Tanpits Road, Church, is amazed that it has been 10 years since the operation was carried out after he had waited over a decade for a donor.
He was born with a congenital heart defect that left him with severe breathing difficulties.
Anthony and his family had almost given up hope, but in September 1998 he received the life-changing call that a donor heart had at last been found.
The surgery was carried out almost immediately by Professor Magdi Yacoub at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex.
Within a month of the transplant Anthony was able to do 20 minutes of gentle exercise and a year later he was given the all-clear by doctors.
He now has what he calls a "very normal" life.
Anthony said: "Before the transplant I couldn’t do normal things like normal people. It was always very difficult. Going to the corner shop was difficult even though it was 100 yards away, but now I can walk around and get to places without feeling too tired.
"It’s incredible how my life has changed. I have so much more freedom. I live on my own and can do everything I need to do."
Football-mad Anthony said he keeps up-to-date on the progress the medical profession has made with transplants.
He said: "When I had my transplant there was a 94 to 95 per cent survival rate but in 2006 it was at least 97 per cent. The technology is always changing and there are always advances. I like to know what is going on."
Anthony, who has dated but is not in a serious relationship at the moment, said: "I know the heart came from a 15-year-old girl who was in an accident. I haven’t tried to contact her family as we are not encouraged to. But it’s something I have wanted to do."
Recently a woman in Preston, who received a kidney transplant, claimed her whole personality had changed since her operation.
But Anthony said his personality was pretty much the same. He added: "There are couple of things that are different but nothing major. Being able to physically do more has been the real change."
To celebrate the anniversary, Anthony has organised a party at the Stanley pub, Accrington, on Saturday 2 August – a month before the actual date to take advantage of the summer weather.
He said: "It will be a really good evening. All the people who have helped me through the years will be there and it will be a very special night."
Guests will include his parents, Jean and Roy, who now live in Spain, and his brother Darren, 36.
During the evening Anthony will be raising money for the hospital where he had the transplant.
He added: "I want to do something for them because of all that was done for me."