Breaking records: life with a heart transplant

Bert Janssen young Credit: Magdi Yacoub Global Heart Foundation, Facebook

February this year, the 57-year-old Bert Janssen, has become the world´s longest-surviving heart transplant patient.

Bert Janssen grew up in the Netherlands and was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy at the age of 17 – a concerning disease of the heart muscle, impacting everyday life and longevity. 

In the 1980s, the Netherlands did not offer heart transplants and Janssen´s future seemed out of the question.

“Someone I did not know at all just told me I had only about six months left.” 

Yet, a cardiologist from his local hospital, Dr Albert Mattart, associated with Harefield Hospital in England, had registered Janssen for a heart transplant abroad.

Only a week after being in England, two hearts of recently deceased adults became available, one of which matched Janssen. 

He underwent surgery by the renowned Prof Sir Magdi Yacoub and returned home. 

“From the moment I woke up after surgery, I felt more energy in my body than before,” said Janssen. 

Throughout his life, he participated in the European and World Transplant Games and built a home for his family. 

“One of my proudest achievements was, along with my wife Petra and both our parents, building our house brick by brick.” 

Having lived and worked 39 years with a heart transplant, Janssen is optimistic about the future of medicine: “It feels like an honour to have reached this milestone, but what I think is most important is that I set a benchmark for others.” 

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Written by

Anna Akopyan

Originally from Moscow, with Russian and Armenian origins, Anna has lived in Costa Blanca for over ten years. She is passionate about singing, acting and traveling.