Warrnambool's Darryl Knowles got the Christmas gift he has waited three-and-a-half years for - a new heart.
Mr Knowles got the call about 8pm on the Wednesday before Christmas, and by 7am the next day he was undergoing heart transplant surgery in a Melbourne hospital.
But when the call came through on December 21, they almost didn't believe it was real, his wife Joanne said.
"We were over the moon. We were stoked," she said.
"We didn't believe it at first.
"His sister said 'you'll get one before the end of the year', and look at that.
"We were all excited. It's a Christmas gift.
"It hasn't sunk in yet that he's got one."
It hasn't sunk in yet...- Joanne Knowles
Mrs Knowles returned to Melbourne this week to be with her husband and wait for him to be brought out of his coma.
"They're slowly waking him up. He's sedated. Each day's a bonus because the heart could still get rejected yet," she said.
This week he was laughing and talking.
"Everything's looking promising," Mrs Knowles said.
She said she didn't know how long her husband would be in hospital after he came out of ICU which could be another week away.
It could be months before he is back home again, she said, but he is now on the road to recovery.
Mrs Knowles and their two adult sons - Fred and Thomas - had to spend Christmas Day in Warrnambool without their dad, but she said they were "pumped" that he had a new heart.
"Our two boys are absolutely thrilled," she said.
During the three-and-a-half year wait for a new heart, the couple had arranged for a driver to take them to Melbourne so they were ready when that call finally came through.
They were told they had to be in Melbourne by 6am on Thursday, but they hopped straight in the car and were there by 12.30am.
"They took him down to theatre at 7am and then they rang me at 5pm Thursday night to say he's in recovery," Mrs Knowles said.
Mrs Knowles said it had not been an easy three-and-a-half-year wait for a new heart.
"He'd go to the gym at the Warrnambool hospital. He walks the dog around the block. He just wasn't allowed to use power tools," she said.
Mr Knowles had spent five months away from Warrnambool in 2019 when he had a pacemaker and mechanical heart put in - returning home just in time for Christmas that year.
He was fitted with the ventricular assist device (VAD) during a major heart operation after he was rushed to hospital in August 2019 after having a heart attack.
He had to be revived after dying due to an enlarged heart, and at the time the family was told to prepare for the worst.
Mr Knowles' best chance of survival was to have surgery to connect a VAD and was then placed on the donor list to wait for a heart transplant.
Mrs Knowles said she was thankful that people signed up to be organ donors. "It's good in one way but it's sad for the other person."
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