New heart helps father of ten share the love

From: Herald Sun

SIX times James Willis' heart stopped and he was brought back, desperate to hang on to life so he could take care of his 10 children.

Now, with the lifesaving gift of new heart, the Ballarat abattoir worker can't wait to celebrate a very special Father's Day in the knowledge The Alfred hospital and a very special donor have given him a more permanent stay with his huge brood.

"I had everything to live for, there is no question about that - and I still do," Mr Willis said.

"They all reckon I got a woman's heart because I now hug them all.

"I never used to hug the boys but after I came out of hospital I did, I kissed them all and I still do, and it doesn't feel bad.''

Seven years ago, Mr Willis was diagnosed with unexplained heart failure but, with the help of medication, his life hardly missed a beat.

With his own business to run and 10 children to care for - four from his wife Anne's previous relationship, three of the couple's own, and three more they then adopted - his health caught up with him suddenly at the end of 2011.

As his heart struggled at just a sixth of its capacity Mr Willis was fitted with a defibrillator. In the coming weeks his heart stopped six times and each time the machine kicked into action and brought him back to life.

"You go bang, you see the bright light, then the defibrillator goes off and gives you a whack and you come back,'' Mr Willis said.

"It is a most disturbing thing. I hated that defibrillator and I don't think death would be as bad. Death was so peaceful every time I went there.''

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