Norwich's Derek gets best birthday present ever
On the critical list after waiting more than three years for a heart transplant, Norwich resident Derek White prayed for, and received, the best birthday gift ever. Mike Wiltshire reports.
For most of the three years, Derek only stayed alive because he was fitted with an internal pump operated by an exterior computerised battery pack - weighing several pounds. He carried the pack with a shoulder strap or from a waistbelt.
Derek's situation became more desperate as he was put on the critical list for many weeks. However, Derek, with his wife, Sue, are both convinced Christians and they never lost hope - they asked God if Derek "could have a new heart for his birthday". And ten minutes before his birthday was over, doctors at Papworth Hospital told him he would receive his new heart.
The long wait was over. But surgeons who carried out the complex operation admitted "it was very tricky" because Derek's health was more precarious than anticipated. Derek - who once worked in the car and computer industries - has since pulled through and is getting stronger day by day.
Derek and Sue, both 66, each lost their previous partners through sickness. Sue has also survived all manner of challenges in life: a gas explosion at home gave her terrible burns at the age of 44, but many scars have faded. Sue has also survived breast cancer.
The couple, who have four grown-up children, both attend Soul Church in Norwich and support the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship. Sue, with her first husband, were pastors of an Elim Church in Sheffield, and Sue is an experienced Bible teacher.
"Derek's recovery has been a miracle," says Sue, who admits "life can be tough." She likes to recall her favourite Bible promise that says: "We know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them." (Romans 8:28).
In Papworth Hospital, Derek and Sue had 'wonderful conversations' with other heart patients and their families. They remember a young man - a heart patient - who became a Christian in hospital, but later passed away. Despite the tragic loss, they sensed that the young man had experienced "the heartfelt peace that only Christ can give."
Sue, who knows her Bible, says we all really need "a new heart" in order to experience life at its best. Sue recalls God's ancient promise to his people: "I will give them hearts that will recognise me as Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly," (Jeremiah 7:24).
Pictured above is Derek White, who received a new heart on his birthday after a three-year wait, with wife Sue.