ONE year on from a life-saving and life-changing operation, Kenneth Brian Morris is hoping to raise awareness of the vital links between two hospitals – by walking from one to the other.

Kenneth, 66, got the call of a lifetime as he was waiting to board a plane to Italy to meet his partner.

He was offered a new heart and he would be the first person to have this surgery done at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Kenneth, from Currock, said: “I was sat minding my own business at Manchester Airport, six o’clock at night when I got a phone call saying ‘we have got a heart for you’.

“The team had never done it before. They had never used the procedure before. They had never taken a heart from a dead patient.”

One year later, he is walking from the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle to the Newcastle hospital to raise awareness about the importance of the connections between them.

His gratitude to the hospital and the charities that made this all possible is immeasurable.

“I would say I probably feel like a 50-year-old again, unfortunately, the body is still 67.”

Since getting the heart, he is able to do so much more which is why, in June, he will undertake this enormous task.

“A lot of people don’t realise how vital the link is between the Cumberland Infirmary and the Freeman regarding the heart and the number of children on this side of the country that go.”

It isn’t only about raising awareness of the links between the hospitals, but also to raise money for the three charities that have had an enormous impact on him too.

Kenneth would like to raise money for CHUF (Children’s

Heart Unit Freeman), Mind, and a veteran’s charity.

“All I want is to do it to recognise the link between the two hospitals to ensure that the heart unit there gets something out of it.

“It’ll be mainly for the CHUF and the veteran’s fund, and Mind.”

When he was diagnosed with his heart condition he developed a philosophy of simply doing all the things he wanted.

He’s been sky diving, horseback riding, and more.

So, taking part in a brand new procedure wasn’t particularly daunting.

“They offered me the opportunity to go on this programme that was sort of revolutionary for them. It has been tried down in London but they hadn’t tried it up here,” he said.

“A charity called the Red Sky Ball purchased the machine to do it, actually for the children’s heart unit at the Freeman.

“I thought ‘yeah, I’ll give it a go, what have I got to lose? I’ll go into the hospital and I’ll either come out feet first or I’ll come out walking’ and I came out walking.”

Kenneth was diagnosed with a heart problem 30 years ago but it was only in the last five that his health deteriorated rapidly.

He couldn’t walk across the street, from his car to the front door, or up the stairs.

He said: “I didn’t give up, the day they told me I jumped on a plane, flew out to Cyprus and went horse riding, quad biking.”

“I thought ‘sod it, if I’m going to die then I might as well die in the sun’.

“I didn’t, I came back.”

In preparation for the trek on June 13, he walks every day and as often as he can.