For 39-year-old Antonio Salvador, who had been waiting years for a new heart, it was a day in which two life-changing events miraculously coincided at Madrid’s Gregorio Maranon hospital.
“When I went into surgery I wasn’t yet a father. I spoke to my wife on a video call and we wished each other luck,” he said in a statement released on Friday by the hospital.
“When I woke up, there was twice the sense of delight,” said Salvador, who suffers from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary disease of the heart muscle which can cause sudden heart failure.
When the call came through, Salvador was in the hospital’s delivery suite with his wife, admitting it took him “a few minutes to decide because it would mean missing the birth of his first child”.
But his wife Ana Maria Gonzalez, 44, was absolutely delighted.
“I couldn’t believe that after 10 years we were going to receive the most wonderful thing in our lives at the same time that Antonio was receiving the life that he himself needed,” she said.
“Our son Samuel brought a heart with him for his dad.”
In 2002, Salvador was coming out of the metro when he had a cardiac arrest but was revived by a nurse from the same hospital.
With his condition deteriorating progressively, a heart transplant was the only answer so they began looking for a compatible donor who finally materialised last month.
“On that day, he was born again and his son was also born, I’m sure they will remember this forever,” said Manuel Ruiz Fernández, the specialist who carried out the transplant.
With the birth of his son on the very day his own life was saved for a second time thanks to the transplant, Salvador says the family will now be celebrating “three birthdays”.
“The truth is that two very special moments for which we’d been waiting for a long time occurred at exactly the same time,” he said.