Norfolk heart transplant patient defies odds to reach 20th anniversary

Mark Baker celebrates 20 years since his heart transplant, at his home at Attleborough with his gran

Mark Baker celebrates 20 years since his heart transplant, at his home at Attleborough with his grand daughters, Caitlin Scott, ten; five-months-old Ella-Rose Martin, centre; and six-months-old Ellie Long. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Twenty years ago Mark Baker was about to undergo a life-changing surgery from which he might not wake up.

Mark Baker with his family, his wife, Rachel and children Trish and Nathan, in 1996 after his heart

Mark Baker with his family, his wife, Rachel and children Trish and Nathan, in 1996 after his heart transplant operation. Picture: ARCHANT LIBRARY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

As his loving family waited anxiously, then 30-year old Mr Baker underwent a complex heart transplant at Papworth Hospital as doctors tried to improve his quality of life.

The average survival time after a heart transplant is 15 years yet 20 years on Mr Baker, who works on a farm, continues to lead a normal and happy life with his family.

Today he said having the operation had transformed his life and that he was grateful for every day he wakes up to.

Mr Baker, of Attleborough, said: 'I want to make the most out of my time every day while I can.


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'Having the operation still gives me motivation in life today.'

Mr Baker was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy when he was 18, a condition where the muscle wall of the heart becomes thicker, making the heart stiffer.

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As he grew older he began experiencing small heart atacks and shortness of breath.

He received treatment as an inpatient at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) for six months, before the decision was made to give him a heart transplant.

'At the time it was very hard to get my head around it,' Mr Baker said.

'But afterwards it felt like I had a new lease of life. Ever since I have felt that I have to keep going because of the donor.

'That donor lost their life but gave me life.'

His daughter Trisha Martin, who was eight years old when Mr Baker had the transplant, said: 'He is someone who never stops, and will always do something for everyone.

'He is a lovely guy and is full of life.

'I remember as a child being excited about the operation but also very scared because I might not see him again.'

Mr Baker's family has raised money for both Papworth and N&N hospitals in the last 20 years.

Her daughter Caitlin Scott, 10, is planning a ten-mile bike ride for charity later this spring to raise funds.

Mr Baker has three grand-children: Reece Scott, Ella-Rose Martin and Ellie Long.

Have you got a health story?

Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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