HEART-STIRRING SUCCESS STORY
By HELEN JACK
TREVOR HERNE laughs nervously as he describes the moment he was told he needed a heart transplant.
"Until I got to Prince Charles Hospital, in Brisbane, I thought I would be home in a couple of days," said Trevor, 15, of Goonellabah.
"I guess it wasn't until they told me what was going to happen that I got scared, and then when they told me they had a heart for me is when I got really scared."
In March this year Trevor got sick with what he thought was the flu. Within six weeks he was undergoing major surgery and receiving a donor heart.
"We were all in shock for the first few days," said Trevor's parents, Aileen and Stephen.
Trevor was admitted to Lismore Base Hospital nearly four weeks after he became ill, and within days he was airlifted to Brisbane's Mater Hospital and later transferred to Prince Charles Hospital.
"It was cool being in a helicopter," said Trevor.
"I had to lie down and they strapped me in so tight my arms went numb.
"But I could see out the front window and everyone was so nice, they were fantastic."
Mrs Herne said the family could not be with Trevor in the Helicopter but had to return home, pack and drive to Brisbane that day.
"I was in such shock I can't remember the trip. I can't even remember packing or what I packed," she said.
The heart transplant team at Prince Charles Hospital told Aileen and Stephen a virus had attacked Trevor's heart and he had a 33 per cent chance of survival, but if their son were to slip into cardiac arrest before he received a new heart he would not survive.
Mrs Herne said she remembers questioning the team about the necessity of the operation.
"Then they showed us an MRI of a healthy pumping heart compared to Trevor's which was only just vibrating," she said.
"Then we knew the transplant had to happen."
Trevor was placed at the top of Australia and New Zealand's heart transplant list with some of his blood sent to every major city in both countries Two weeks later a compatible, healthy heart was found.
"I had got used to living in the hospital, having all my meals brought to me in bed and being fussed over," said Trevor.
"Part of me was glad a heart was found but part of me did not want to go into surgery."
The operation took three hours to complete.
"All I can remember saying after I woke up was 'it hurts'," said Trevor.
"I would ask the nurses for more pain killers and they would tell me the medication would take 10 minutes to kick in and all I could think of was how long 10 minutes were." In 10 years Trevor will need another transplant, which is the expected life span of a transplanted heart.
But in the mean time Trevor, like any other 15-year-old, meets with exuberance and sense of humour the challenge of a life irreversibly changed.
"Because the nerves are not connected to my new heart I would not feel it if I was to have a heart attack," Trevor said.
"And it takes a little while to react to me doing exercise, so I need to be careful.
"Also I have to take about 40 tablets a day three to stop% rejection, and the rest to stop the side-effects of the first three."