A FORMER paratrooper from Irvine has told how he has been overcome with emotion following his recent heart transplant.

Joe Scott, who served in the British Parachute Regiment had been on the waiting transplant waiting list for almost four years prior to receiving the surgery.

Though the 61-year-old had no reservations on undergoing the procedure, saying his years jumping out of aircrafts was a far scarier experience.

Joe commented: "One of the mottos on the RAF badge is ‘Knowledge Dispels Fear’. That stuck with me over the years and it 100 per cent helped me through my transplant process.

“I never had any negative thoughts about getting a new heart. Everyone who had been caring for me from the pre-transplant team over the four years I was on the transplant list was just so positive that it took away my fears.

“They just instilled a real confidence in me from the care, knowledge and information they were giving me. That same language that dispelled my fears is the same wording the RAF used when you’re training or jumping out of a plane for the first time.

“So when the big day arrived, everything is like clockwork, the process is slick, so wonderful, everyone just being calm, talking away to me and I never had one negative thought. I had so much faith in all the team."

Now Joe says he has been given a new lease of life, after struggling with day to day tasks throughout his 25 years living with cardiomyopathy - a disease which affects the heart's ability to pump blood around the body.

He explained: “Before my transplant I was gasping for breath climbing the one flight of stairs in my house. Going to bed each night was a really horrible time, I had to build myself up to going up the stairs.

“When I got home after my transplant I knew those stairs were going to be my test so I just walked straight up them and straight back down again and it was the most wonderful feeling in the world.

“It was even quite emotional, I actually broke down after it because struggling up those stairs and gasping for breath had been my normal for so long."

Joe's procedure was one of 24 carried out from April 1 2021 to March 31 2022 at NHS Golden Jubilee - home of Scotland’s only heart transplantation unit.

It was a record number of transplants carried  by the unit in the space of a year which has been largely credited to Scotland's law change to an opt out system of organ donation.

Joe said that he simply cannot put into words the gratitude he feels to his donor and their family.

He commented: “When you’re a transplant recipient, words like gratitude, elation and joy mean so much more than they did before. This feeling of elation and thankfulness is on a different stratosphere.

“For someone to be so gracious in their passing to allow someone like me to live, there are just no words of gratitude worthy enough to show my feelings towards this person and their family.”

There are 50,000 people living today with a transplant in the UK, with a further 7,000 people currently waiting for a life-saving transplant.

NHS Golden Jubilee Consultant Cardiologist and Clinical Lead for transplantation, Dr Jonathan Dalzell, who was part of Joe’s care team, said: “Being able to look after our patients, like Joe, and see how their lives immeasurably improve after a transplant is an absolute privilege for our team.

“However, we are all aware that it is the donors and their families who are the true heroes of transplantation, which is entirely dependent upon their remarkable generosity and altruism whilst in the face of deep, personal tragedy.

"Such selflessness is an example to us all and is sincerely and indescribably appreciated by patients and transplant teams alike.”

“If you would like to be an organ donor to help save and improve lives, please make your decision known to your loved ones.”

For more information on organ donation and how to register your decision, www.organdonation.nhs.uk.