British Heart Foundation
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Did anyone watch the heart transplant programme on BBC?

Hey, everyone. I would really like to watch the documentary about heart transplant that was shown on BBC recently, but I'm a bit scared. I started watching it a few days ago but began freaking out a bit as soon as it began - think I made it literally a few seconds in before panicking and switching off! I like to be informed about my health issues and I read a lot about transplantation when I was considering going on the transplant list a few years back. Once I got over the initial terror, I felt much better for knowing more, like I could find a way to cope if I ended up in the transplant zone again. There seems to be a disparity between my logical reaction and my emotional reaction to heart transplant, though. I'm hoping watching this programme might boost my positive logical thoughts about transplant, but am worried it might just reopen the can of worms that is my panic-driven emotional response and I'm not really up for that. Have any of you watched it and what would you say about it? Positive and informative or terrifying and best avoided? Thanks :)

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Hi Laura... I too started to watch... however I had to switch off quite quickly as it was very graphic and although I know it's all amazing I just started panicking as I am due my third op soon... and I know if it goes wrong it could lead to open heart surgery!! I am already bricking it so didn't need the added stress.

They had a heart in their hands and my son who was watching was also getting upset. So I gave it a swerve....

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Thanks, Karen. Maybe best avoided. I can feel myself getting anxious just reading your reply! Hope you've not been too stressed by it, your son too x

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Hi Laura. Personally I only found it mildly uncomfortable watching, as it was just a few weeks after my OHS. On balance though, it was a very informative programme, tinged with the cruelty of being on the transplant waiting list. What a desperate place to be and for so long. It did put my routine AVR in perspective though. What was also amazing was the rate of development of medical science for harvesting and preserving transplant organs. I will watch the next epsode with interest and secretly hope I'm never on the waiting list. Importantly, it reminded me to ensure that I'm on the organ donor list although at my age Iappreciate that my 'parts' are well used, so probably of limited value. Ho hum.

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I know I'd find it interesting so I'd really like to watch it... I was quite taken aback by my reaction when I switched it on, just the hospital setting was enough to scare me off.

I'm not sure anyone would want my parts either, but they're welcome to them if they do!

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Hi there. I thought the programme was amazing, highlighting the fantastic work that goes on in our NHS. I wanted to watch the surgery and stuck it out, as I will need open heart surgery at some stage. But it is graphic, so I can appreciate why you might not be keen. I did cry a few times while watching, and I have encouraged some of my friends to try watching it (I think they reckon I'm faking mitral valve prolapse and the future). Good luck to you and stay strong.

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Thanks. I'm so tempted, just don't want to end up back with my terrified head under the covers for ages. In general, I much prefer facing the realities of my fears these days, but am feeling like being made redundant (while all good) has left my mental wellbeing a bit more precarious than usual. Maybe now is just not the right time... I wish the BBC would keep their programmes up a bit longer.

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I watched it with my husband - he's had a CABG and I need mitral valve surgery. We both found it really interesting and positive. The technology was incredible. I was reassured, but I'm not facing such serious surgery. We're not particularly squeamish, although if it had been eye surgery I'd have been out of the door!

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I'm not too squeamish either (eyes and knees being the exception for me!) and usually quite enjoy seeing surgery on TV, but thinking I will avoid this one. Hopefully I may never need a heart transplant, or at least not any time soon, but if I did have to go down that road sooner rather than later (not so unlikely) I would hate to have images in my mind that scared me - you can't unsee once you've seen! Thanks :)

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I watched it and found it very interesting but a bit disconcerting- made me realise what my body had been through, twice! Not sure that I would have watched it before my op, quite liked not knowing the details so clearly. Liked the new bit of equipment where hearts can be kept in good condition for longer between leaving the donor and reaching the recipient.

Wendy

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Thanks, Wendy. Gosh, it must be strange seeing others having open heart surgery when you've had it yourself. I'm going to steer clear for now. Hopefully it will be repeated in six months or so, I might be more in the right frame of mind by then :)

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Hi Laura. I watched it. It is very graphic with detailed filming of OHS and a beating heart. However in terms of the teams and their skill it was truly amazing and a fantastic opportunity to see their brilliant work. (Of course I am biased because the Freeman Hospital Newcastle is my local heart hospital!!). They also showed the most up to date technology and developments. But it was very emotional. Rather I found it very emotional and found myself crying through out the whole programme for me it was both uplifting as well as emotionally challenging in equal measures. I would hesitate to watch it if you feel in anyway anxious or down. But be assured that the research and technology is developing at a pace. Just my personal thoughts. Take care. Zena

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Thanks, Zena. I'll take your word for it, I think, and enjoy knowing that it was positive and exciting without riding the emotional rollercoaster myself. I always hear such good things about that hospital. Nice to know you are in such safe hands!

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I had a heart transplant 144 days ago, it was a great program showing most of the things that happen, these programmes are needed to get more people on Transplant list

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Congratulations on your transplant. Hope you are doing well? Do you think you would have been reassured or anxious if you had watched this prior to your surgery rather than afterwards? I definitely agree with the BBC showing the programme and making more people aware of the need for organ donors. I don't think I am going to watch it at the moment, though, interesting as it sounds. I'm a bit disappointed in my avoidance tactics though, it doesn't often help in the longer term. All the best :)

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As for watching it before hand, no I wouldn’t, I don’t tend to look to far in future, as I’ve had dcm for 25 years I take things as they come, and yes I’m doing as well to be expected with no rejection

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Whether you watch it or not....it is what it is. You can only marvel at the skills and dedication of the surgery teams. I am grateful for such skills. When you look back at techniques today compared to only a few short years ago...it is truly amazing. Watch it.

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My advice would be try and find the courage to watch.

When I was younger I watched the programmes on TV when heart transplantation was in its infancy.

Only 30+ years later to require open heart surgery myself!!

I'm only about 12 weeks after my op for severe leaking mitral valve, with regurgitation and a hole in my heart.

I must admit before and since my op I have watched videos of various heart surgeries to understand what was about to happen or happened to myself.

In my case I was scared and anxious, but watching helped me deal with it and handle it mentally.

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Yes I'm squeamish, and so it's a bit too close to home for me. And obviously try to avoid BBC fake news. C

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I was too scared to watch it. Maybe as it's 'too close to home'. I am also considering being an organ donor now (though I don't think they'll want my dodgy heart!)

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Hi Laura, I am nearly 10 weeks post op from a CABG. I had been finding it hard to watch medical programs up to that program. I think before it was all so close to home. I was determined to watch it as I wanted to know what happens. Yes its graphic and I too was in tears at points, but it showed the determination and expertise of our NHS at its finest. I think we should have a transplant opt out model the same as in Wales, my opinion though. I even consented to my son becoming an organ donor, should the need arise, when he was just a baby (he's a healthy 20 year old now). The bit I found the most interesting was when the sternum was put back together and all the drains put in, although this was done in high speed photography. I absolutely understand if someone does not want to watch this but I found it informative, ground braking and testament to the fantastic work undertaken by our NHS 24/7.

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I have now watched in on catch-up and found it very interesting as I am awaiting a quadruple. The scar tissue issue from previous surgeries was more than I would have thought.

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Hi Laura hope you're feeling good today... I did contemplate watching it as I had open heart surgery 8months ago but I bottled out in the end.. maybe will consider watching it sometime in the far off future.. I have also had eye surgery and I am now visually impaired as the surgery wasn't successful for me..que sera sera..and again I couldn't bring myself to watch the procedure on TV.

Sending you hugs.

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Hi Laura, I watched it and found it very interesting. I do like that type of programme anyway. I did wince a little when they were cutting through the sternum!

It is very sad that people were having to wait so long and was so tragic for a young dad who died.

I hope you are well, you are still beating me hands down on the Fit Bit steps, but I was very pleased with my latest weekly summary, which said I'm doing an average of 11,000 steps a day, when there was a time after my op that I could only manage 11,000 in a week, so that is progress!

Take care. Love Margaret xxx

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Decided I would watch but haven't had time yet, will need to check if it's still available. Is there anyone in it who dies during/after heart transplant? I think that's a scenario I might be best to avoid seeing... Glad you found it interesting and comforting, thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

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Yes, I agree, but I think that's why I'm wary of watching it. If I need a transplant in the future, I don't want something I've seen making me too scared to do it, or have that scenario playing on my mind while waiting for a donor heart. It's one thing to know about and accept the risks, but having images in your memory of those risks manifested is a whole other level. I was asked to consider going on the transplant list a few years ago and I remember what my fears were and how they affected me, both in terms of adding to my stress and affecting my decision making. If I end up in that category again (not so unlikely longer term, though I'm lucky that my heart is stable in its wonkiness currently) I want to be able to weigh everything up logically rather than fixate on one particular negative. And I think that is probably my whole dilemma with the show - I want the overall information, but I don't want one specific aspect blinding me to the bigger picture. My current mental health is hard won and I don't want to lose any of what I have achieved. But then I think avoiding fears is not healthy either... Aaaargh! Deciding whether to watch it is like a miniature (miniscule miniature, I know it's not anywhere near the same league) version of deciding whether to have surgery - very real risks if you do it, but probably outweighed by the potential benefits of doing it and the risks of not doing it. And if I agonise this much over whether to watch a show about transplants, you can imagine my agony considering an actual transplant...and why I really don't need to make that decision any harder for myself! 😂

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Thanks. Recording it is probably a good idea actually, that's what I'll do :)

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Just wanted to update this post to say that I watched this programme in the end. I did find it quite stressful, but overall it was a very positive experience for me. It was amazing to see so much surgical detail and somehow the transplant procedure doesn't seem as scary now I've seen parts of it, as oppose to just reading/hearing about them. Was also great to see the technological developments being made in preserving and transporting donor organs, hopefully that's going to make more hearts available and make surgery easier, so I can add that to my list of reasons to be positive about the future as a heart failure patient! I am glad I found out a bit about the programme before watching it though (I knew what to expect) and that I chose a time to watch it when I was not feeling quite so anxious as I was when I originally posted. I shed a lot of tears during the programme and felt quite anxious and queasy at times, but I've walked away from it thinking good thoughts and feeling a bit more informed. I almost always feel better in the end if I face my fears directly, so I'm glad I watched it, but it definitely wouldn't be for everyone, I'm sure, so don't take this post as advice for you to follow suit!

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts about this :) If you are thinking about watching this show and want me to provide spoilers to help you decide, just message me and I'll gladly fill you in.

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Pleased that you watched it and found the positives in it. How amazing are the staff and teams who work in transplant arena. Like you I cried throughout the programme but as you say it needs thinking about before watching. Sending love and hugs. Zena x

Ps you’re putting me to shame in terms of steps!! However I have an ear infection at the moment so when I’m better.......!!!!!

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