News / Vancouver

Determination of 'Energizer Bunny' key to success of rare double transplant

B.C.'s medical community is applauding the success of a rare double transplant, but doctors say the surgery wouldn't have been possible without the unstoppable will of their patient.

Just two days after he became the fifth patient in B.C. history to receive a new heart and kidney in the same day, Rob Nutter was walking laps around the nurses station – and he hasn't slowed down since.

“It just progressed from there,” said an emotional Nutter at a press conference Wednesday. “I did as much as I could as often as I could.”

The 55-year-old former millwright was diagnosed with post-viral dilated cardiomyopathy in 1998 and, later, kidney failure had him visiting the hospital multiple times a week for dialysis.

When his condition worsened in 2011, his name was added to the list of now more than 500 patients awaiting transplant in B.C.

Although he lived as full a life as he could before the surgery Nutter was weakened by his condition and even a 15 minute walk was strenuous. If he did have the stamina for more activity, he was burdened by tubes and batteries trailing from his dialysis machine and heart assist device.

Two months after the 14-hour operation, hour-long strolls in the morning and evening are regular part of his daily routine.

He says he is looking forward to hiking the trails around Castlegar.

Nutter's determination has earned him the handle “Energizer Bunny” around the intensive care unit.

 Rob Nutter, a 55-year old recipient heart and kidney transplant at St. Paul's hospital.

Rob Nutter, a 55-year old recipient heart and kidney transplant at St. Paul's hospital.

“This guy just keeps on going,” said Dr. Jamil Bashir, part of the team of doctors who oversaw Nutter's unique transplant.

“Without that, without the human spirit and the strength to go on, you really can't – you can't do these things.”

Nutter said he called the press conference to promote organ donation and St. Paul's hospital, which he says has “saved my life so many times in the past two years. It's just incredible.”

Although Nutter doesn't know anything about the organ donor, he expressed sincere gratitude to the donor's family.

“It's just really hard to put into words that I'm so thankful they've given me a second chance at life,” he said.

For more information on organ donation, or to sign up as a donor, visit

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