A NEW dad who underwent a lifesaving operation earlier this year has spent Christmas with his family – after thinking he might not live to see it.

Late last year, Roger Marr, of Prestonpans, thought he had ‘Australian’ flu – a severe strain of the virus known as H3N2.

However, it was soon discovered that he actually had a viral infection which eventually caused severe heart failure.

After recovering well following Scotland’s first ‘Heart in a Box’ transplant, the 46-year-old was delighted to be at home this Christmas with his wife Caroline and baby Rocco – who is six months old this weekend.

Ahead of Christmas Day, he told the Courier: “It is going to be my son Rocco’s first Christmas and he will not understand much but it is going to be so special. My family, my brother-in-law, sister-in-law and family were just amazing.

“I lost my mum in April last year before I went in to hospital and I was still dealing with that.

“Away from the dark side, I cannot wait – I love life now.

“I just want to do so much with Caroline and Rocco. I want to go and do things.

“Things that mattered before don’t matter now and I am just so happy to be alive. I have got a second chance.”

Roger, who works as an assistant rail construction manager with Network Rail, had travelled through to Glasgow for his work in November last year.

However, after leaving the city’s Queen Street Station, he found he was “toiling” to walk the short distance to his work.

Pains in his stomach and heavy arms and legs meant he thought he had the flu or a virus.

Doctors advised him to take paracetamol but as the symptoms worsened he visited the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in November last year.

It was soon discovered he had a viral infection, which eventually caused severe heart failure.

He was then transferred to the Golden Jubilee National Hospital, in Clydebank, where he was told he was seriously ill and needed a heart transplant to survive.

On top of that, while he was in hospital, his wife Caroline discovered she was seven weeks pregnant with their first child.

Roger was the first person in Scotland to have a heart transplant using the Organ Care System (OCS).

The new technology is the world’s first portable system, which keeps human organs warm and functioning outside of the body.

The OCS extends the amount of time a donated organ can remain outside the body in a condition suitable for transplantation, while give surgeons the opportunity to assess an organ’s function.

It contains technologies which simulate the conditions of the human body and allows organs to function as they normally do.

Roger, of Prestonpans’ Preston Avenue, told the Courier he felt like he was “walking about in a daze” and thought it was “a bad dream, a bad nightmare”.

He said there were “dark” days while he was in hospital where he “just shut the door and did not want to see anybody, days where I could not face it anymore”.

However, he is on the road to recovery after the revolutionary treatment.

He said: “It was weird when I was shown my heart to show how damaged it was, it looked terrible.

“They weren’t talking about transplant to begin with, but I was deteriorating and that is when transplant surgeon Phil Curry landed at my bedside and told me he thought he could do the transplant.

“I owe so much to the donor, their family and transplant team at the Jubilee, I cannot put into words my gratitude or how I feel.

“They saved my life and gave me a life with my newborn son, who is now running me ragged.”