Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

New heart for Daniel

What was expected to be a long wait was anything but as young Seymour man gets heart transplant.

CHALPAT SONTI March 6, 2014 10:14am

Heart transplant recipient Daniel Paynter, here flanked by sister Tash and mum Jenni.


When the call came, Daniel Paynter was ready — just how ready surprised even the health system.

At 2am on January 17, the phone rang. It was what the Seymour 21-year-old and his family had been waiting for the previous few months, but the call they weren’t expecting to receive for possibly years.

On the other end was the Alfred Hospital. A patient had died, and their heart was being donated.

Mr Paynter suffers from the rare disease idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy, which means his heart does not pump blood properly.

He was diagnosed with the condition in May last year and it led to a dramatic deterioration in his quality of life, including being unable to work. The only real solution was a heart transplant.

As he told the Telegraph last year, being on the heart transplant list at such a young age was ‘‘scary’’.

When the Alfred called, they didn’t realise Mr Paynter and his family were in Melbourne. The Paynters arrived at the hospital within the hour.

Later that morning he underwent the transplant, an eight-hour operation, and doesn’t remember too much until the next day.

He then spent six days recovering in the intensive care unit before shifting to the wards for another eight days and eventually being allowed to stay at a friend’s house.

Mr Paynter is now having weekly biopsies — the first six weeks after the transplant are the most troublesome for the new organ — but this will be stretched out to monthly, then even rarer. He goes to the Alfred four times a week. And the patient is doing just fine, thanks. Maybe even jumping out of his skin.

‘‘I’m feeling fantastic,’’ he said.

‘‘Obviously I can get around a bit but the main thing is I’m trying to avoid being around sick people (due to the risk of infection) as much as I can. I do a fair bit of walking to keep the scenery interesting.’’

So what was it like to receive that initial call?

‘‘Scary almost, everything starts racing through your mind,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s ‘what do I do, what do I take?’. We were quite surprised because the average waiting time is nine months to two years, and here I am lucky enough after five months.’’

And he and his family — also keen to raise awareness of organ donation — are thankful to the late donor, and their family.

‘‘It’s difficult to think about so soon after the transplant but ultimately I’m very grateful to whoever it was. The family made the decision to either respect the wishes to donate or made a decision to donate it themselves.’’

Now Mr Paynter’s thoughts turn to home, which he has been allowed to visit on a type of day-leave permit.

‘‘When I’m eventually allowed home I’m probably going back to (work at) Safeway and seeing the old regular faces again,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve got a larger scope of things which I can do. I’m getting better, obviously for seven months or so I was getting used to a new sense of normal but I’m happy to get used to another new normal again.’’

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