Heart failure

Scotsman who survived heart failure and cancer says Covid was ‘torture’

He spent 300 days in hospital awaiting a heart transplant, but Mike Hanlon refused to give up hope that his life would be saved.

After a match was found, with very little time to spare, and he recovered from major surgery, he developed prostate cancer. Despite this, Mr Hanlon remained positive, describing the disease as a mere ‘blip’.

But the tireless optimism the 61-year-old showed throughout his two illnesses was finally put to the test after contracting Covid-19.

He describes the experience as “torture” and says it took more toll on his body and mental health than either of his previous life-threatening illnesses.

Doctors have told the married father-of-three that he most likely would have been fighting for his life in intensive care had he not been vaccinated.

READ MORE: Scotland records over 6,000 new Covid cases

His kidney function dropped to half the normal level, he lost more than two stones in two weeks, and his blood pressure dropped. Five months later, he is still experiencing symptoms.

“I wouldn’t wish what I’ve been through on my worst enemy,” said Mr Hanlon, who lives in Glasgow with his wife Lillias.

“It was torture. It’s like the worst flu you’ve ever had. Every part of you is in pain and you have no energy.

“It really affects your mental health. Sometimes I thought ‘maybe I won’t wake up tomorrow morning’.

“You start having dark thoughts, but then I thought – you’ve beaten other things, don’t be silly, you’ll get through this. But my God, it was a tough process to go through.”

Mr Hanlon is believed to have contracted Covid during a wake at the hotel in August.

He said: ‘It was downstairs with a low ceiling and they had about 120 people pinned down.

READ MORE: Covid Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon says to drop face mask rule at school

“I was playing golf the next day and I wasn’t feeling very well. When I came back I did a lateral flow test and it was positive and I had a PCR the next day.

“I felt horrible, I slept about 10 hours a day and every part of my body was in pain.

“I got up, then I felt tired and I had to go back to bed. Two weeks later I called NHS 24 and told them I felt even worse.

“I went to see my GP and he took some blood and my kidney function had dropped to half the normal level”

“He said he was really worried about it and he was brilliant. He spoke to my consultant at the Golden Jubilee and was monitoring me every day.

Mr Hanlon had to stop taking his immunosuppressive transplant drugs because it was thought they might hamper his body’s ability to recover from Covid.

READ MORE: How does it feel to meet the mother of the man whose heart saved your life?

“It was really a long process,” he said. “I was really bad until the end of October. One day you don’t feel too bad and the next day you’re terrible again.

“I’m still not right and I usually have to go to sleep in the afternoon.

“They didn’t tell me it was long Covid but it probably is. My taste and smell still haven’t returned to what they were before.


(Mike Hanlon with Jacquie Pedley, who gave consent for his son Ben’s heart to be donated after he died in a bicycle accident)

Mr Hanlon, who works part-time at the American Golf store in Clydebank, was behind the Scottish Government changing the organ donation law after he received a heart transplant in 2017.

He is grateful that his heart was unaffected by Covid and is working well while his kidney function has returned to normal.

“The doctors said if I hadn’t been vaccinated – guaranteed to end up in intensive care,” Mr Hanlon said.

He says he doesn’t understand why anyone would refuse a vaccine, but admits the refusals include his own son. He said, “I told him I probably would have died if I hadn’t had it. But it’s his decision. »

He said the family are planning an 18-day holiday in Spain in March and hopes the lure of a sunny trip will persuade him.

Despite the Covid ordeal, he said there was a silver lining (“I’ve lost two and a half stones in two weeks”) and says the fear of repeat infection won’t stop him from live your life.

“The way I was after getting my heart transplant was that every day is for life.

“There are people with heart transplants who wrap themselves in cotton, but I’m like, ‘You have this heart for a reason.’

“Why would you become a recluse.”