He spent 300 days in hospital waiting for a heart transplant, but Mike Hanlon refused to give up hope that his life would be saved.
After a match was found, with very little time to spare, and he recovered from major surgery he went on to develop prostate cancer. Despite this Mr Hanlon remained positive, describing the disease as a mere “blip”.
But the indefatigable optimism the 61-year-old has shown throughout both his illnesses was finally put to the test after he contracted Covid-19.
He describes the experience as “torture” and says it took more of a toll on his body and mental health than either of his previous life-threatening illnesses.
Doctors told the married father-of-three that it is very likely he would have been fighting for his life in intensive care if he had not been vaccinated.
His kidney function dropped to half the normal level, he lost more than two stones in two weeks and his blood pressure plummeted. Five months on he is still experiencing symptoms.
“I wouldn’t wish what I’ve gone through on my worst enemy,” said Mr Hanlon, who lives in Glasgow with his wife Lillias.
“It was torture. It’s like the worst flu you have had. Every bit of you is sore and you have no energy whatsoever.
“It does really affect your mental health. At times, I was thinking to myself, ‘maybe I won’t wake up in the morning’.
“You start to have dark thoughts, but then I was thinking – you’ve beaten other things, don’t be silly, you’ll get there. But my God it was a hard process to go through.”
Mr Hanlon believes he contracted Covid at a hotel funeral wake in August.
He said: “It was downstairs with a low ceiling and they had jammed in about 120 people.
“I was playing golf the next day and I didn’t feel very good. When I got back I did a lateral flow test and it was positive and I got a PCR the next day.
“I felt horrendous, I was sleeping about 10 hours a day and every part of my body was sore.
“I would get up then feel tired and have to go back to bed again. Two weeks later I called NHS 24 and told them I felt even worse.
“I went up to see my GP and he took bloods and my kidney function had dropped to half the normal level”
“He said he was really concerned about it and he was brilliant. He spoke to my consultant at the Golden Jubilee and was checking up on me every day.
Mr Hanlon had to stop taking his immunosuppressant transplant drugs because it was thought they might hamper his body’s ability to recover from Covid.
“It’s really just been a long process” he said. “I was really bad until the end of October. One day you feel not too bad and then the next day you are terrible again.
“I’m still not right and generally have to go for a sleep in the afternoon.
“They’ve not told me it’s long Covid but it probably is. My taste and smell has still not returned to what it was before.”
(Mike Hanlon with Jacquie Pedley, who gave consent for her son Ben’s heart to be donated after he died in a cycling accident)
Mr Hanlon, who works part-time at the American Golf store in Clydebank, fronted the Scottish Government’s opt-out organ donation law change after receiving a heart transplant in 2017.
He is grateful that his heart was unaffected by Covid and is functioning well while his kidney function has returned to normal.
“The doctors said if I had not been vaccinated – guaranteed I would have ended up in ICU,” said Mr Hanlon.
He says he can’t understand why anyone would refuse a vaccine but admits the refusers include his own son. He said: “I’ve said to him, I would probably have died if I hadn’t had it. But that’s his decision.”
He said the family are planning an 18-day holiday to Spain in March and hopes the lure of a sunny trip will persuade him.
Despite the ordeal of Covid, he said there was a positive aspect (“I lost two-and-a-half stone in two weeks”) and says the fear of a repeat infection won’t stop him living his life.
“They way I was after I got my heart transplant was that every day is for living.
“There are some people with a heart transplant who wrap themselves in cotton wool but I’m like, ‘You got this heart for a reason.’
“Why would you become a recluse.”