Tommy McManus says big thank-you to hospital that saved his life
The family of a local man who nearly died from multiple organ failure have raised almost £8,000 to thank the hospital in England that saved his life.
Tommy McManus collapsed in his home on the morning of June 2, 2015, while he had been looking forward to attending his sister Lisa's graduation.
He was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital but suffered a cardiac arrest two days later. Diagnosed with severe heart failure, the strain also caused his liver and kidneys to shut down.
His condition was so severe he was airlifted for specialist treatment at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle Upon Tyne.
"I needed a new heart," explained Mr McManus, who is from Downpatrick. "But my poor health meant that at the time I wasn't eligible for a transplant.
"In an attempt to save my life they said they were going to insert a VAD (Ventricular Assist Device)."
The medical device acts as a mechanical pump that takes pressure off the heart.
"They saved my life," he added. "Without them I'd be gone. There is nothing that I could fault there, the NHS is the best healthcare service in the world. Their dedication is second to none."
While the VAD is not a permanent solution for Mr McManus - the device is connected by a cable that comes out of his abdomen to a battery pack and controller he must carry at all times - it does offer hope while he faces the uncertain wait for a heart transplant.
Following his lifesaving treatment Mr McManus's grateful family staged a red carpet evening at the Eclipse Cinemas in his home town, where his other sister Roisin Taggart is manager, bringing in £7,865.
In the six days before the fundraiser Eclipse donated £1 per cinema ticket sold, and money was also raised for a defibrillator at the cinema.
"It was the least we could do," said Ms Taggart. "It was a real shock to the whole family that Tommy took ill so suddenly and the next thing we knew we were all uprooted and staying in Newcastle indefinitely.
"There's not enough money in the world to repay everyone for looking after Tommy so well."
The money will be split between the four wards Tommy stayed in at the Freeman, with the rest going to the Ventricular Assist Device Fund.