A British runner has been powered across the finish line in EIGHT marathons – using the heart of a COW.
Determined Scott Allen, 34, feared his running days were behind him after he failed a medical for the Rome Marathon two years ago.
He was immediately pulled from the race after being diagnosed with the potentially fatal aortic regurgitation – a leaky heart valve.
The shop worker then became so weak that he was unable to summon the strength even to make a cup of tea and needed open heart surgery that involved getting a valve replacement from a cow.
And he has used the his new-found cattle cardio to complete the marathons after a slow, but ultimately successful recovery from his unusual op.
He said: “I failed a medical for the 2013 Rome Marathon. Within months my condition deteriorated and I needed open heart surgery.
“I do now have the valve of a cow in my heart. That is what has saved my life.
“The valve in my heart was replaced with an organic valve which came from a cow.”
“The operation lasted for a few hours and they open up your sternum like a zip down your front.”
Following the surgery, Scott, of Plymouth, Devon, had three months off work and took six months off sport.
But he gradually built up his strength, and remarkably after 15 months he began running again.
He pledged to run 20 marathons and is already almost half way towards his target.
And the inspirational athlete has even started his own running club that currently has 130 members and growing.
He said: “I wanted to do the Rome Marathon in 2013 so I registered in October 2012.
“You have to have a medical form signed by your doctor to say you are fit and healthy for the race.
“It was then the doctor found I had a problem with my heart.”
Scott, of Plymouth, Devon, completed his first marathon just over a year after diagnosis – and has not looked back since.
“My condition had deteriorated so badly that I eventually moved back in with my parents because I couldn’t even make a cup of tea.”
“I got a dog, Jack, who is a beisson freize, and taking him out across Dartmoor has really helped.
“After 15 months of no running, I have got fit, got back into running.”
Despite it success, Scott may have to undergo the same surgery again.
He said: “I understand the valve has a limited life, and I will need to have open heart surgery again in around 14 years time.
“My thinking was I’ll do all my running and enjoy an active life now before settling on a metal replacement valve in the future.”
Scott’s condition involves blood leaking back through the aortic valve because it does not close properly.
With each heartbeat, more blood than usual enters the left ventricle so it needs to work harder.
Mild regurgitation may not cause symptoms, but a more serious form of the condition may lead to heart failure and sometimes surgery to replace the valve is needed.
If the valve needs to be replaced, this will be done using either a mechanical valve, often made out of titanium, or a tissue valve which is made from treated animal tissue, such as a pig or a cow.