STUNNED David Acaster went to the doctor complaining of a chest infection - and was told he would die if he does not get a heart transplant.
The 50-year-old warehouseman from Ecclesfield, Sheffield, has been too ill to have the tests to see if a transplant is possible.
In the next few weeks he is hoping he will recover enough to be put on the waiting list for donation - and then must cross his fingers and hope a suitable heart comes up.
Father-of-four David told The Star: “I just thought I had a virus - I had been having little stabbing pains in my chest.
“But I went to my GP and they said I had a problem with my heart - and sent me straight to the Northern General Hospital.”
Doctors at the cardiothoracic centre carried out a series of tests, and diagnosed David with heart failure.
“The two valves at the top of my heart aren’t working,” David said.
His heart, which has an erratic rhythm, cannot pump blood properly around his body. The specialists said David had a genetic heart defect - and could have died at any moment.
His wife Valerie, 54, said: “It was a complete bombshell. David is never ill. He has only been to the doctor three times in 15 years.
“Our world has been completely turned upside down. He could have died at any time.”
David, whose four children now face tests to see if they have the same defect, has been left unable to carry out even the simplest tasks.
“It has knocked me for six,” he said. “I can’t do much without getting tired. Just bending over or walking a few steps is really hard.
“I’ve always been fit and I’ve worked on my feet all my life, so it is really frustrating.
“It’s terrifying, the thought of having a new heart put into my body, but I need it to live.
“I’ve just got to trust the professionals to do their job, and hope I am lucky enough to get a matching donor.”
He added: “My message is to go for regular check-ups at your doctor - you just never know what might be wrong.
“And we’re not very good - men - at going to the doctor.”
Valerie and David, who both work for Hygequip Supplies, a Wincobank firm which makes supplies hygiene and pest control products, are also urging people to sign up to be organ donors.
“We need a complete change in our mindset,” said Valerie.
David added: “It’s a matter of life or death - donating your organs is a last gift to humanity.”
n Valerie is taking part in British Heart Foundation’s fundraising zumbathon in Sheffield at Don Valley Stadium, next Sunday, July 8. To enter visit bhf.org.uk/sheffieldzumbathon or call Lauren Mallinson on 07714 069 126.