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Heart transplant inspires Long Eaton student’s medicine degree

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  • By Owen Shipton and Dan Martin
  • BBC News

Image caption,

Lewis Blackburn dropped his plans to become an accountant after his transpant

A man is heading to university after a heart transplant gave him a second chance at education.

Lewis Blackburn, from Long Eaton, Derbyshire, was forced to quit college four-and-a-half years ago when he fell seriously ill.

He underwent an emergency heart transplant but fought his way through recovery, resitting his A-levels and securing three grade As.

The 26-year-old will now study medicine at the University of Bristol.

Mr Blackburn was diagnosed with the genetic condition restrictive cardiomyopathy aged 18 after his previously unexplained illness made him so tired and poorly he was often unable to attend classes.

Specialists who treated him said his heart function had fallen to dangerous levels and he required a life-saving organ donation.

Mr Blackburn said he then spent around a year recovering and had hoped to resume his studies before the Covid-19 pandemic forced him to isolate for a further three years because he had a suppressed immune system.

Image source, Lewis Blackburn

Image caption,

Lewis’s father Mark said he feared his sick son would die and that he was proud his recovery

He told the BBC he had by then dropped his initial plan to study accountancy because of his own experience being cared for by the NHS in Nottingham.

He said: “It [medicine] was really something that truly interested me, learning about my own condition in hospital at the time.

“My consultant in Nottingham has been a life-saver. He was a great communicator and I don’t think I’d have been mentally prepared to have the transplant without him.

“That’s something I want to try to pass on myself.”

Mr Blackburn said he was excited but anxious about his upcoming studies.

“I’ve not moved away from home before really so it will be nice to get a fresh start.” he said.

‘I’ll miss him’

Cassie Reeves-Moore, who taught Mr Blackburn at Nottingham College, said: “It’s always really rewarding when you see students progress and he’s done so well, getting such great grades and working so hard on his application to get into medicine.”

His father Mark said he was also proud of his son’s career path.

“I’m so happy for him to have this opportunity to go to Bristol,” he said.

“There was a point when he was so ill we did not know if he’d live. It was very frightening but I’m so proud of the way he has taken his second chance.

“I’ll miss him but hopefully he’ll be back now and again. “

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