John Turley

John Turley was born in Geelong and that is still his home town. John has nine sisters and seven brothers. His exercise program for the last 10 years has been walking daily with one of his brothers.

John is married to Norma and they have three daughters and four grandchildren. Norma is such a keen Collingwood football fan that she can be seen at the Christmas BBQ with her 'Collingwood' chair - even though the football season is over!

John worked in road construction for 20 years and then became a union official - a job he enjoyed but one that could be extremely stressful. So what led to John needing a heart transplant?

In 1981 pains in the chest made John seek medical advice. He was sent to hospital where tests revealed nothing. Shortly after he felt very unwell and went to see his doctor. While at the surgery (which was very lucky) he suffered a massive heart attack. He had to have three months off work. John began walking at this time and apart from a few occasions when unwell, he hasn't missed his daily walk since then.

In November 1982 he had another heart attack which resulted in him having another three months off work. In November 1983 he had a further heart attack, again needing three months off work and in November 1984 he had a quadruple bypass. After three months he went back to work and went for seven years without any problems. But in 1992 the doctor advised him to resign from work.

John and Norma then travelled for six months each year around Australia until 1997 when John required another quadruple bypass. During this admission at The Alfred John suffered cardiac arrest. It was only six weeks later that he again suffered with chest pains and from then on it was a series of procedures including needing stents.

Professor Black at Geelong told him that if he had had another bypass there was a 95% chance of dying and if he could get on the transplant list he would have a 95% chance of living. In January 2002 he wrote to The Alfred for John to be considered for the transplant list. After the lead up tests John was told he was too fit to go on the transplant list. However John still was having problems so in July of that year he went back again for more tests with the same result.

In September 2002 he was enjoying a family celebration dinner at a restaurant and suffered cardiac arrest at the table. One of his daughters said "Dad you would do anything to get out of paying the bill!". This resulted in Prof Black again getting in touch with The Alfred and this time he was put on the list. In the meantime John had received a defibrillator and three weeks later he received his call.

How did John feel when he received the call? He was more worried about driving up to Melbourne just hoping he wouldn't have an accident!

The procedure went very well for him for the first two days then his lungs collapsed and he was in a coma for 10 days. After that John also had to have a major operation on his groin to repair the exposure of the artery needed for his transplant operation because of having so many previous bypasses. John was very lucky to even get a transplant being aged 65.

John and Norma stayed in Melbourne for the 12 week gym program.

What are John's memories of his time at the gym? Even though everyone moans about the gym and considers Lou a slave driver it was a very rewarding experience having achieved so much fitness and meeting other transplant patients, some of whom have become very good friends such as Nik.

Despite all of John's previous problems, he has had seven years of good health. In this time he has seen the arrival of three new grandchildren which gives him enormous pleasure. He hopes to be around for a few more birthdays yet.

As his way of giving back, when asked, John has willingly accepted invitations to talk to Rotary groups in the Geelong area to help promote organ donation.