Derrick Morris

Derrick Morris (24 March 1930 – 30 July 2005) was, at the time of his death, Europe's longest-surviving heart transplant recipient, living 25 years after the transplant performed by Sir Magdi Yacoub in 1980. He died from an illness that was not heart or transplant related.

Derrick Morris
Derrick Morris.png
Morris in 1980[1]
Born24 March 1930
Died30 July 2005 (aged 75)
OccupationSupervisor at Swansea Docks
Known forLongest surviving heart transplant recipient 2005 (25 years)

Morris had his first heart attack in 1975 and was told to expect to live only months. He became an active campaigner against heart disease, an advocate of organ donation as well as a symbol of the success of organ transplantation.

Early life and illnessEdit

Derrick Morris was born on 24 March 1930.[2] He was from Swansea in Wales,[3] and was working as a supervisor at Swansea Docks when he suffered his first heart attack in 1975.[4] He was given only a 15% chance of survival, and was told to "live six months at a time".[5]

Heart surgeryEdit

Morris was initially sceptical when a heart transplant was suggested but was persuaded by his doctor. He recalled, "we were told of the dangers. Because transplant work was in its infancy, the chances of survival were slim. But I decided for the family's sake to go ahead."[4] His surgeon Magdi Yacoub later commented that Morris's transplant helped shape public opinion: "Most importantly, Derrick went on to show that transplantation was a good thing."[4]

The operation took place on 23 February 1980 at Harefield Hospital and was Yacoub's third such procedure[6][7] and one of 14 performed at Harefield that year, following an initial moratorium on heart transplant procedures and before the introduction of cyclosporin.[8] The procedure had been discontinued in 1973 due to poor results.[9] The donor was a 26-year-old woman who had been killed in a car crash.[5] After the operation, Morris eventually returned to work at the docks. He was the eleventh person in the UK to receive a heart transplant.[A]

It was argued that the cost of the operation was not money well spent because the National Health Service would have been better to spend it on preventing heart disease rather than doing transplants.[1] Several people who had transplants at Harefield died while Morris was recovering.[11]

Morris's fate became intertwined with the largely transformative transplant success of Yacoub, who had an internal drive to perfect his craft, his team and their results.[12]

Later lifeEdit

By the 20th anniversary of his operation, Morris already held the European survival record.[13][14][15] The longest heart transplant survivor in Britain before Morris's surgery was Keith Castle, who had surgery performed by Sir Terence English in August 1979 at Papworth Hospital.[16]

In conjunction with celebrating his two decades of postoperative life, Morris said his heart disease was serious and debilitating, noting: "Twenty years ago I was a complete invalid. I couldn't even walk. In February 1980 Yacoub gave me my new heart and since then I have come on in leaps and bounds." This enabled him to travel to a number of countries, including making five journeys to the United States, and see his grandchildren grow up. These were all experiences that would not have been possible without the transplant.[13][17]

By 2000, Harefield ran the largest heart and lung transplant programme in the world. Yacoub and his team went on to perform more than 3,000 heart and heart–lung transplants.[13][18]

Morris retired at the age of 65 and outlived his wife Beryl.[4] When 25 years arrived, Morris expressed surprise: "It was an anniversary I thought I would never get to."[19][20] In July 2005, Morris joined 1,000 other people who had survived heart and lung transplant operations at a celebration at Harefield Hospital to mark 25 years of transplant surgery. He was Harefield's longest and Europe's longest surviving recipient.[3] Just weeks before his death, he participated in a 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) stroll along Swansea Bay to raise funds for heart disease research.[5]

Death and legacyEdit

Morris died from a flu-like illness on 30 July 2005 at the age of 75, six months after the 25th anniversary party.[4][21] By then, he had three grandchildren.[11][19]

His long lasting legacy was that: “Most importantly, Derrick went on to show that transplantation was a good thing”, said Yacoub. Morris is said to have been instrumental in a sea change in public opinion about this type of surgery. Morris promoted campaigns to fight heart disease and was effectively both a benchmark and a "poster child" for signing up potential organ donors.[5] His survival and his lifetime example was called a transplant medicine "inspiration" by Yacoub.[18][19] His successful operation and prolonged survival had a profound effect on public opinion relative to heart transplants.[B]

His longevity record was later surpassed by John McCafferty, who became Britain's longest surviving heart transplant recipient by 2013 at the age 73.[22][C]



  1. ^ On 3 May 1968, the United Kingdom's medical history garnered its first heart transplant. It was carried out at the National Heart Hospital in Marylebone in London.[10]
  2. ^ "He provided inspiration and encouragement for the thousands of people who underwent the operation at a time when the life expectancy of transplant patients was counted in days rather than years."[18]
  3. ^ In a procedure carried out by Yacoub and survived over 33 years, until 10 February 2016. McCafferty was recognised as the world's longest surviving heart transplant patient by Guinness World Records in 2013,[23] surpassing the previous Guinness World Record of 30 years, 11 months and 10 days set by an American man who died in 2009.[24] The previous record holder was Tony Huesman, who died 30 years, 11 months and 10 days after receiving a new heart.[25]


  1. ^ a b Popay, Jennie; Dennis, John; Griffiths, Jenny; Draper, Peter (17 April 1980), "Transplanting priorities", New Scientist, Reed Business Information, 86 (1203): 136, ISSN 0262-4079
  2. ^ McWhirter, Norris; Matthews, Peter (October 1992). Guin: Book of Records '93. Middlesex, England: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 68. ISBN 978-0-85112-978-5.
  3. ^ a b "Heart transplant recipient celebrates 25th anniversary". The Northern Echo. 15 July 2005. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Savill, Richard (2 August 2005). "Record survivor of heart transplant dies". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Longest-surviving Heart Transplant Patient Has Died", 4 August 2005. Accessed 21 February 2013 Archived 11 April 2013 at
  6. ^ Cawthorne, Mike (March 2015). "Presentation speech for Sir Magdi Yacoub for the honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University honoris causa" (PDF). University of Buckingham. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Derrick Morris". To Transplant and Beyond. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  8. ^ Alivizatos, Peter A. (January 2019). "Sir Magdi H. Yacoub, the Leonardo da Vinci of cardiac surgery". Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center). 32 (1): 146–151. doi:10.1080/08998280.2018.1532247. PMC 6442908. PMID 30956614.
  9. ^ "1970s". Fifty Years of Heart Transplant. British Heart Foundation. Retrieved 20 April 2019. The number of heart transplants declined sharply due to difficulties in keeping the recipient alive long term – from 99 across the world in 1968 to 47 in 1969, 17 in 1970 and 9 in 1971. In 1973 the then Chief Medical Officer met with Donald Ross and other leading surgeons and doctors in the field, and they agreed to halt human transplants until more research had been done.
  10. ^ "50 years on: UK's first heart transplant remembered". BBC News. 3 May 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Heart-swap champion goes globetrotting". WalesOnline. 24 June 2004. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  12. ^ "1981". Fifty Years of Heart Transplant. British Heart Foundation. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  13. ^ a b c "Transplant man celebrates 20th anniversary". BBC News. 10 February 2000. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  14. ^ "Magdi Yacoub". Arabian Business. 24 March 2009. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  15. ^ "Yacoub, Magdi (1935–)". International Encyclopedias almanacs transcripts and maps. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  16. ^ Halfman, M. A. (June 1982). "Britain's longest living heart transplant patient: Keith Castle". Focus On AACN. 9 (3): 24. PMID 7047220.
  17. ^ "Anniversary for transplant patient". BBC News. 22 February 2002. Retrieved 22 April 2019. I've been practically around the world on holiday and I've got a wonderful family and three wonderful grandchildren who I wouldn't have seen otherwise," said Mr Morris.
  18. ^ a b c de Bruxelles, Simon (2 August 2005), "Pioneer heart patient dies after 25 years", The Times (subscription required)
  19. ^ a b c "Heart op man celebrates 25 years". BBC News. 23 February 2005.
  20. ^ "'Pioneer' heart patient, 75, dies". BBC News. 1 August 2005. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Longest-living heart transplant patient dies". 31 March 2013. Retrieved 19 April 2019.
  22. ^ "1982". Fifty Years of Heart Transplant. British Heart Foundation. Retrieved April 20, 2019.
  23. ^ Ward, Victoria (11 February 2016), "John McCafferty Longest Living Heart Transplantation Survival", The Daily Telegraph,, retrieved 2017-02-09
  24. ^ Prynne, Miranda (24 December 2013). "Brit sets new record for longest surviving heart transplant patient". The Daily Telegraph. United Kingdom. Retrieved 19 September 2014.
  25. ^ Nightengale, Laura (April 26, 2017). "Thirty years later, Peoria's first heart transplant recipient is still going strong". Journal Star. Retrieved April 21, 2019.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit