A MORAY man has returned from taking part in the British Transplant Games a year after having a life-saving heart transplant.
Richard Heaney (41) travelled to North Lanarkshire to compete in the golf event for the first time.
The father-of-eight discovered he was needing the transplant at just 39-years-old after becoming ill in January 2015.
After seeing local doctors he was transferred to a specialist in Glasgow and learned that he was experiencing heart failure caused by a viral infection.
Richard said: “I became ill suddenly and then I spent a lot of time in and out of hospital, I then found out in February 2015 that I was needing a transplant, which came as a total shock.”
The former soldier was first given medication to help his heart recover but it did not work and he was listed as urgently needing a donor.
It was over two months before a match came forward but Richard successfully underwent the operation and even managed to walk down the aisle to marry his wife Marie just eight weeks after going under the knife.
He said: “I was in hospital for about six months in total last year, I did get out for a period when they thought the heart was strong enough but it went back downhill and I was back in but I got out in June last year.”
While spending time as a patient at the Golden Jubilee Hospital in Glasgow, Richard heard about the transplant games.
“There were a number of patients in the hospital who took part in the games so I looked into it when I was there and applied to be part of the team,” he added.
Since leaving hospital, the Elgin man joined Maverston Golf Club and has been playing the sport for about four months.
He launched an online appeal to help cover his trip to the self-funded games.
“I didn’t play golf before my transplant, I decided to take it up because I wanted to do some sort of exercise,” Richard said.
“It was something that was less strenuous but would keep my heart going and keep me walking. Something to do while out a walk I guess, but I really enjoy it.”
He travelled to North Lanarkshire last weekend to compete in the competition against 70 other golfers from around the UK.
Speaking of the experience, he said: “I didn’t win anything, but I didn’t finish last either, so I was pretty pleased since I have only been playing golf for a short time.
“It was great to be part of the games and to be able to speak to people who had all had transplants but all had different stories. I really enjoyed it.”