A British triathlete and newlywed vacationing in in Maldives suffered multiple cardiac failures after he developed myocarditis, a lethal inflammation caused by a heart-attacking virus. During his six weeks of intensive treatment, 33-year-old Andrew Britton was in a temporary state of clinical death on six separate occasions. Although he’s now back in England, he will need a heart transplant to survive.
What started out as the perfect honeymoon quickly turned into a matter of life and death when Britton suddenly collapsed. Within hours of arriving, he began experiencing a variety of alarming symptoms, and was rushed to the island’s infirmary. The local physician put him on an IV, but his condition soon deteriorated.
“I felt so ill I couldn’t get out of bed and I was really sick and sweating,” Britton said, speaking to The Daily Mail. The next day I work up in the middle of the night and could hardly breathe. I thought it must be a bug so we got the boat back to the mainland to get checked at the hospital.”
Mainland doctors determined that they had about 24 hours to get Britton to a specialized heart hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, as the viral infection was already killing him.
“It all happened completely out of the blue and was absolutely terrifying,” said Britton’s wife, Lauren. “I was a complete wreck and felt quite hysterical. I was on the phone to family and friends back at home most of the time, who really kept me going.”
When he woke up in the Bangkok hospital, he learned that physicians had fitted him with a temporary pacemaker, as his heart had already given in several times.
“I pointed for pen and paper and wrote ‘Did I die?’” he told reporters. “I later learnt I had five cardiac failures in the Maldives and I had a sixth a few days later.”
After doctors stabilized his condition, Britton was transferred to Harefield Hospital in London, where underwent eight hours of open heart surgery. Surgeons implanted a left ventricular assist device – a circulatory unit designed to partially replace heart functions. Since the procedure, Britton has remained hospitalized, awaiting a transplant.
“I still have one final hurdle to go in getting the transplant, but I’m ready for it and know that everyone around me is there to get me back to how I was before,” he said. “My goals when I get back to full health are to win the world championship in squash in the transplant games and to simplify my life.”