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Transplant patient pledges his heart



Transplant patient Alan Paisley has pledged his heart to Charmaine Bright and she has accepted his hospital proposal. Picture: Cindy Goldie


Alan Paisley’s heart has long belonged to Charmaine Bright, even though it is not all his own any more. Paisley, 51, received a life-saving heart transplant at the eThekwini Hospital and Heart Centre, north of Durban. It is held in place by a piece of his old heart and as his health improved by the day, he plotted with the nurses to propose to his girlfriend. The couple have been together for two-and-a-half years and have known each other for six. “I wanted to marry Charmaine but I have been so sick, everything was on hold as we could not plan the future,” he said on Thursday. Paisley has been in and out of hospital since March, often staying as long as a month at a time, unable to walk and battling to breathe.



A very happy Charmaine Bright. Time was running out for the 51-year-old electrician. Cindy Goldie, the hospital’s transplant co-ordinator, said his heart was working at less than 10 percent and he was not expected to make it to Christmas. Then came the news that a donor heart had become available and he would be getting a transplant. Just before Paisley went into the theatre, Goldie told him he would be home for Christmas and back at work by March. “And isn’t it time you married Charmaine?” she asked. Paisley agreed that with his health about to be assured, he would pop the question. But as he was unable to leave hospital straight away, the staff organised the engagement ring, a card, cake and celebratory grape juice. Goldie went shopping for the ring and sent photographs back to Paisley to choose the one he knew that his girlfriend would love. The unsuspecting bride-to-be was then called to the hospital for a “training” session to prepare for Paisley being discharged tomorrow. Instead, a dozen staff in on the secret were hiding in the nearby duty room and watching the proceedings through the window as Paisley told his girlfriend that he loved her and asked if she would marry him. It was exactly a week to the minute since Paisley came out of the theatre.



“It was a surprise, but I had no hesitation in saying ‘yes’,” said Bright, 41. “The cake, everything, was just perfect.” Paisley said the gift of a new heart from the unnamed donor had changed his life dramatically. “It has been a horrible year and now I feel like a million dollars. I can walk again, shower myself and breathe without oxygen. It’s amazing: the best Christmas present ever.” His future wife said the hospital staff would be invited to the wedding. “It might as well be in the hospital: it’s been our home for months,” she laughed. “I am looking forward to getting Alan home and continuing with our lives,” she added. There is no wedding date yet, but “it is not going to be long”, the future groom vowed.


*Details about the Organ Donor Foundation are available on www.odf.org.za or at 0800 33 66 11 .

Credits: Daily News - Barbara Cole

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