“It’s cool. It’s a milestone. None of the other ones are around.”
So says Diana Van Vliet, British Columbia’s longest living heart transplant recipient.
It was 30 years ago this week that Vliet, now 54, had the surgery in London, Ontario. There were no hospitals in B.C. that provided the new procedure at that time, but the young mother of two was determined to find a way forward.
“I wanted to see my kids grow up and have grandkids. And thought, well, this is the only shot you’ve got,”
While she’s had many health issues over the years, virtually none have been related to her heart, which is still in good condition.
“The average life expectancy after a heart transplant is 10 years. The average in B.C and Canada is about 15 years. To see someone living after a heart transplants after 30 years is quite remarkable,” said Dr. Mustafa Toma, a St. Paul’s Hospital Cardiologist.
Today, Vliet plans to continue breaking longevity records – and with 508 people in B.C. waiting for an organ transplant, hopes more people will step up to be donors.
“I believe in organ donation, and think if you can help somebody you should. If you can’t use your organs, why not let somebody else have a second chance?”