A YATE dad who is a heart transplant survivor is planning to take on another marathon challenge to raise money for charity.

Phil Hardwell completed the London Marathon in 2022 just two years after receiving a new heart.

Now, the 36-year-old is lacing up his running shoes again to support the British Heart Foundation (BHF) by taking on the Manchester Marathon.

The father-of-two needed the lifesaving operation after being diagnosed with a condition called arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy (ACM) in March 2017.

ACM causes the walls of the heart to become weak leaving it unable to pump blood as well as it should.

At the time, Phil was serving as a soldier in the British Army and not showing any symptoms.

He was fitted with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to monitor his heart rate and rhythm.

Then, in February 2018, he started to feel unwell as his heart had started to go into a dangerous abnormal rhythm.

Over the next 18 months his health declined until the point where a heart transplant was his only option for a long-term future.

He said: “It was touch and go whether I could even be well enough for a heart transplant.

“It was hard to process it all. I tried to stay positive, but I also felt angry, and I wanted to know why this had happened to me.”

After five months anxious wait, Phil finally got the call he had been waiting for.

He said: “I remember waking up after the operation with lots of tubes around me and being in the worst pain imaginable.

"But, as the days passed, I started to feel better. I was able to breathe easily, and I could feel my heartbeat for the first time in many months – that was a strange sensation.”

After recovering at home, Phil – who now works as a health and safety adviser - was keen to build up his fitness and to support the BHF.

In 2022, he raised over £3,000 for the charity by completing the London Marathon.

He has now set himself the goal of completing the Manchester Marathon which is taking place on the 14 April. 

“I feel like I’ve been given a new lease of life,” said Phil.

“Before my transplant, I could barely walk up the stairs at home. Now I’m able to play with my children and even run a marathon.

"I feel grateful for every day and by raising money for the BHF, I hope I can help people in similar situations to mine.”

In the UK, around 200 people receive a heart transplant each year. The BHF has funded research into heart transplant since the 1960s.

Researchers supported by the charity took part in the UK’s first heart transplant in 1968. The BHF continues to fund work to reduce the risk of rejection and improve long-term outcomes.

Jas Dhanda, Fundraising Officer for the BHF, said: “It’s very humbling to hear Phil’s story and his commitment to supporting our work after everything that he’s lived through.

“It is a powerful reminder that research can take ideas like heart transplants, that once seemed far-fetched, and turn them into an everyday reality.

“I would like to thank Phil for his amazing efforts and for helping to raise money that can be used to discover new breakthroughs that can save and improve many lives.”