A 39-year-old man went under the knife for a long-awaited heart transplant at the same moment his first son was born.
Antonio Salvador was with his wife, Ana Maria Gonzalez, in the delivery ward of Madrid’s Gregorio Maranon Hospital this March when the call he had waited years for finally came through.
His cardiologist rang to tell him a suitable heart donor had been found and he had to decide quick if he was ready for the life-changing transplant operation.
Antonio said in a statement obtained by Real Press that few get to experience two simultaneous special moments like that.
He said: “I needed a few minutes to make the decision because it meant that I was going to miss the birth of my first son.”
But he was already in the hospital and he added: “In less than an hour I was getting ready in the building nearby for the surgery.”
His son was not yet born as Antonio was about to be anaesthetised so doctors allowed him a quick video call to his wife in the nearby ward where they wished each other good luck.
Antonio said: “When I woke up, I had double satisfaction. It must be around 8 pm I went into surgery and my baby was born through caesarean at the same time, so we both were born at the same time.”
His wife said: “We each faced our moment in a separate way, but with the joy of knowing that everything was going to be fine.
“I could not believe that after 10 years we were going to receive the most wonderful thing of our lives at the same time that Antonio received the new life he needed.”
Antonio’s heart problems started as a teenager when he told his mum that he got tired easily.
He was later diagnosed with a heart condition, but in 2002 he suffered a heart attack at a Tube station and nearly died.
Luckily a nearby nurse was able to restart his heart, and since then Antonio has always felt that he has two birthdays thanks to the actions of the nurse.
A cardiologist from the hospital, Manuel Ruiz Fernandez, described Antonio’s condition: “He had a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a hereditary disease caused by the enlargement of the myocardium.
“This makes it difficult for the blood to be pumped from the heart, causing it to work much more.
“A lot of patients with this kind of condition end up with terminal heart failure, and a transplant like Antonio’s is the only solution.
“His heart was deteriorating gradually.”
The midwife attending Ana Maria said she was very surprised when told the father-to-be was leaving the delivery room: “I could not understand what could motivate a decision like this. But when I was told the reason I had felt huge joy.
“And everything was fine as it was.”
Another hospital cardiologist, Eduardo Zatarain, described the moment Antonio was told of the available donor: “We called the patient, and he was in the delivery room with his wife.
“He was shocked at first and had some doubts, which were logical, but he only needed few minutes to process the news,
“These calls happen in an unexpected way. But he made the right decision.
“Now he will be able to have a normal life. He will need to be careful of infections the first year, and we will control the possible rejection of the organ with cutting edge medicines.”
In the meantime, Antonio is concentrating on his recovery and is grateful for the hospital staff for their work despite the coronavirus pandemic situation.
He also thanked the donor, whose identity is to remain unknown.
The new father has been able to see his son via video call but: “My dream is to leave the hospital in order to meet my son and hug him.”