A Spalding man who was only the eighth patient to have a new kind of life-saving heart transplant at Papworth Hospital is ready to cycle 170 miles to help others.
As well as being the eighth to have a DCD transplant – or “non beating heart transplant” – former firefighter Chris Hancock (55) had his surgery on the eighth day of the eighth month last year, and has had a tattoo featuring the eights.
I am looking forward to spending some time with my son and to giving something back to Papworth.Chris Hancock
When the eighth month comes around this year, Chris will have his mind focused on saying thank you to the doctors who saved his life by raising money for Papworth as he cycles with his son, Matthew (29), from Morcambe to Bridlington.
Papworth pioneered the new surgery because too many people were dying waiting for donor organs.
Its DCD programme boosted the number of hearts available for transplant by 50 per cent but the hospital can only carry out this vital work with donated funds and it costs many thousands of pounds to perform each operation.
At the end of July Chris will test his sporting prowess in the British Transplant Games in Liverpool.
Chris and his sister, Jill Pearce (54), had suffered from the same inherited heart problem, dilated cardiomyopathy.
Chris’s wife, Elaine, said Jill had a heart transplant 20 years ago and was in hospital for about five months.
She said: “Chris was in hospital for two-and-a-half weeks for his.”
Chris retired from the fire service two years ago after being a firefighter for 30 years.
Following his operation, Chris returned to work this year to do some plumbing and is currently doing 12-hour days as he commutes from his home in Spalding to run a building site in Luton.
Matthew bought Chris a bike so he could build up his fitness and father and son will do the coast-to-coast ride from August 20, possibly over three or four days depending on the weather.
Chris said: “I am looking forward to it immensely.
“I am looking forward to spending some time with my son and to giving something back to Papworth.”
The ride will also be a tribute to the unknown donor who made it possible for Chris to live on.
Elaine is a former Spalding Tulip Queen, has worked as a mobile hairdresser and is now a receptionist with Avoca Beauty Clinique, which is above Amici in Vine Street.
She and Chris met through golf and married 21 years ago. Elaine has a daughter, Melissa.
Elaine and Chris have four grandchildren between them.
• You can help Chris raise money for this great cause by donating directly via his fundraising page. Visit justgiving.com and type in ‘Chris Hancock’. JustGiving sends your donation straight to Papworth Hospital Charity and automatically reclaims Gift Aid if you are a UK taxpayer.