AT ONE time brave Nessen Runghen never thought he would be able to lead a normal life.
He was born with a heart defect which gradually got worse in his teens.
Then one day he collapsed – which led to him being hospitalised for nine months.
And it was during that time doctors realised he needed a new heart.
Now 20 years after he underwent a heart transplant Mr Runghen, 41, is praising the mystery donor who saved his life.
And he is encouraging others to sign up to the donor register and save a life. Yesterday was the end of National Transplant Week, which raises awareness of organ donation.
Mr Runghen, of Devon Road, Copnor, said: ‘Before I had my operation I could hardly walk and I couldn’t go five steps without being out of breath.
‘The doctors told me I would die if they couldn’t find a donor.
‘It was an incredibly tough time in my life.
‘Twenty years ago I never thought I would live for another 20 years.
‘If someone told me at the time that I would one day get a job, have my 15-year-old son Joseph and go on holiday I wouldn’t have believed them.
‘There’s such a shortage of donors and I would really encourage people to sign up. I can’t thank my donor enough.’
Mr Runghen, who grew up in Mauritius, added: ‘I felt better straightaway after the operation and I decided to pursue a career in the motor industry.’
Mr Runghen, 41, who is now a self-employed car dealer, said he doesn’t believe there is enough awareness of how people can become donors.
An NHS Blood and Transplant spokeswoman said: ‘It’s heart-warming to hear stories such as this where transplant recipients are still doing well 20 years post transplant.
‘It’s great to see them encouraging others to make a pledge to donate their organs.
‘More than 60,000 people in Portsmouth have signed the register but we still need more.’
To sign up visit organdonation.nhs.uk