A Brighouse man on the waiting list for a heart transplant has delivered a message to help raise awareness of a life-threatening condition.
Darren Gibson, 50, supported Cardiomyopathy UK at an information day in Bradford’s Kala Sangam Arts Centre.
Darren was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and severe heart failure in 2004 but for many years leading up to his diagnosis the symptoms went unrecognised.
Darren said: “I just knew deep down something wasn’t right every time I went to the doctor. Cardiomyopathy is difficult to detect and if not diagnosed the consequences can be devastating.”
Darren had experienced symptoms in childhood and was unable to join in sports other children were doing, so he chose ones where he didn’t have to run.
In his early 20s, working as a truck driver, he experienced severe chest pains when driving down the motorway and was told he had experienced panic attacks and anxiety.
He was always tired, kept pulling muscles and getting cramp, and for many years was diagnosed and treated for ME.
In January 2004, Darren was given his diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy and severe heart failure but his condition continued to deteriorate and by November 2007 his doctors were worried he may not make Christmas.
They fit Darren with a biventricular pacemaker and ICD to make his heart beat in a more efficient way and shock him should his heart go into a dangerous rhythm.
Stabilised for a short while, in July 2011 days after was told he needed a transplant, his health deteriorated to the point that he needed to be in a wheelchair and was fitted with an LVAD (left ventricular assisted device) as the pressures between his heart and lungs had become too high for transplant.
As soon as he woke up from his LVAD operation he felt really awake for the first time in years.
However, he remains on the transplant list for a new heart.
“I am passionate about raising awareness of the condition because it affects so many people,” he said. “While not everyone will experience cardiomyopathy in the same way as I have, I hope my story can inspire others to recognise the signs and symptoms of the condition before it’s too late.”