By James Somper
A super fit model has had a life-saving mechanical heart fitted after he had heart failure at the age of only 21.
Greg Marshall was about to fulfil a lifelong ambition and join elite military unit the Royal Marines when he suffered heart failure in December 2016.
Doctors initially believed Greg had suffered from a chest infection and had asthma until he collapsed in a car park – and they realised his condition was much more serious.
After spending two years waiting for a new heart, Greg, from Oxford, has had a mechanical heart fitted as his condition is so severe.
Greg’s mum, Tessa Marshall, 49, said: “He was a fit and healthy young man, he’d never even broken a bone and had never been ill before.
“The odds are that I’m going to outlive him which is really hard to deal with but hopefully his new heart will make a difference.
“The speed in which this has happened has been horrendous.”
Greg had a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) fitted which uses a battery operated pump to circulate blood around the body.
An LVAD is fitted to someone with heart failure to restore the flow of blood around the body to a normal level.
The device works by pumping blood from the left heart ventricle out into the aorta where it flows into the rest of the body and is monitored through a control panel outside the body.
100 people in the UK are currently living with an LVAD.
Despite suffering a heart attack and stroke during the surgery, the operation was a success.
Greg, whose father Roger died following a heart attack passed the gruelling physical tests needed to join the Royal Marines as a commando.
But Greg began to feel unwell and Tessa who lost her husband Roger to a heart attack sensed that something was up.
After being initially diagnosed with a chest infection and then asthma, Greg was eventually told he had heart failure after he collapsed suddenly.
Tessa said: “He had had a chest infection and came home and couldn’t clear it.
“After three weeks I thought something wasn’t right and having been through what we’d been through with his dad I knew something was up.
“The doctor gave him an inhaler and said he had asthma.
“Then one day he went to Halfords and collapsed in the car park.
“The hospital called and said he had heart failure, it was complete and utter disbelief.
“Since then it’s been a whirlwind. The doctor’s, nurses and all of the health staff have been amazing.”
Greg’s family were screened to see if his condition was possibly hereditary but no link was found.
His dream of becoming a marine is now over and he was given a pacemaker on October 25 2018 but had to have a replacement fitted in November after the original failed.
The once super fit model is now a shadow of his former athletic self and he has lost half his body weight and is unable to leave his hospital bed.
Tessa, who is raising money on GoFundMe to help support Greg said: “He’s still the same person as before, he’s happy and he smiles but he’s frustrated with what’s happened to his life.
“It’s hard for him because he feels like he doesn’t have a value or a purpose but he doesn’t complain at all.
“Unless he had the heart now he’ll need a transplant and the wait could be too long for him.
“He has never once said ‘why has it happened to me’. We just hope that this procedure brings him some normality now.”
You can donate to Greg’s appeal here: https://www.gofundme.com/gregs-recovery-requirements