Concerns around medical standards were raised again after Penge man Ron Hammond came around from a routine heart transplant operation to find to his horror that instead of an brand new heart, he had been fitted with a full-size Wurlitzer organ in his chest cavity.
‘When I first saw him in post op everything seemed alright,’ said his wife, Edith, ‘but you get an instinct about these things and I knew something was wrong as soon as he came round. Instead of speaking he just smiled weakly and pitifully played the theme from ‘Casualty’.’
Although doctors have promised to pull out all the stops to remedy the mix up, it would appear that the replacement heart destined for Mr Hammond was now powering the central heating system of the bungalow of a pensioner in Wallington. ‘I was a bit surprised when the workmen said that a delivery error has meant that they couldn’t let me have my new keyboard but the good news was that they could fix my boiler,’ said Elsie Williams, 76. ‘It’s a new concept they told me. It pumps blood around the system instead of hot water. It’s very good, and the lungs that came with it are doing a grand job in the tropical fish tank.’
In a recent development, as they wait for new donor, surgeons are considering a completely synthesised heart in place of a transplanted organ. Dr Robert Moog, a pioneer in the field, says he holds great hopes of success and a progressive recovery although the technology still needs some fine tuning.
Meanwhile Mrs Hammond is planning to take her husband to the coast to convalesce for a few weeks. ‘He keeps piping up with ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’, so I’m taking him to Brighton for a few days,’ explained Edith, ‘then after that, he will be appearing at Whitstable, Worthing and Lyme Regis.’