Heart Transplant patient Robbie Burns challenged himself to undertake a half marathon walk from his home near Winchester to Heartbeat House on Sunday 12th September and asked friends and family to join him and his wife Tamsin at the start or along the route to raise money for Wessex Heartbeat, a charity dear to his new heart.

Robbie says "I was born with a congenital heart problem and had open heart surgery twice as a child. The surgery I had was not a fix but left my heart working the wrong way round, so the small right side of my heart which is meant to pump blood to the lungs, instead pumped blood around the whole body, although this still gave me a good quality of life."

Unfortunately, over time Robbie's heart began to struggle and although the Adult Congenital Heart Team at Southampton did a magnificent job of keeping Robbie's heart going until 2019, it was becoming obvious to him that his heart was reaching the end of the road and he was facing up to the prospect that he was approaching the end of his life. He was referred to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle to be assessed for the suitability of a heart transplant.

"On the 25th of June 2020 which ironically was Tamsin and my wedding anniversary, I had the call to say a potential heart was available and the following morning underwent my heart transplant."

Robbie's post-transplant recovery has been long with serious complications which he readily admits has taken their toll not only on himself but his family too, as due to the Covid19 Pandemic, he could not have visitors in hospital, not even Tamsin.

"It was a rollercoaster of nightmares, hallucinations, exhaustion yet insomnia and discomfort. The list was endless and there were even times when I felt that being dead must be better than the life I was in."

Currently breathing through a tracheostomy (a tiny 6mm tube in his neck), Robbie has severely damaged kidneys, scarred lungs and various other lumps, bumps, aches and pains but this has not weakened his determination to walk a half marathon from his home near Winchester to Heartbeat House to support his local heart charity. Not only has Robbie been treated by the Cardiac Unit at Southampton General Hospital for the past 25 years but he has also had the privilege to manage the department.

"Wessex Heartbeat are a crucial partner in enabling the department to continue to be a world leader in cardiac care. The additional support and funding they provide for patient care, research, staff training, family accommodation and welfare is invaluable and is something I have witnessed and personally benefitted from."

Joining him on the walk was Cardiologist, Dr Sam Fitzsimmons and Mel Finch from the Cardiac Unit, Southampton

as well as his Cardiologist from the Freeman Hospital Newcastle, Dr Katrijn Jansen

The route started at Robbie and Tamsin's house, near Winchester and will be split into 4 legs with refreshment/comfort stops along the way. It follows the Itchen Way into Southampton, crosses the river and proceeds westward across Southampton and the Common, finishing at Heartbeat House, Tremona Road.

“Check out this video on BBC iplayer by Chris Packham 'The Walk that made Me' as it covers significant proportions of the walk we will be doing".


You can make a donation at JustGiving or through our own website by pressing donate 

"If Robbie can You can"

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