A Birmingham teenager has told how a virus made his heart swell to half the size of his chest and left him critically ill just hours after playing football.
Stefan Clarke, aged 19, from Wheeleymoor Road, Kingshurst, Birmingham, was struck down by an incredibly rare virus that threatened to kill him.
But just days later Stefan had been given a new heart by transplant specialists at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Edgbaston, and was on the road to recovery.
Stefan, a maintenance worker for the SOS Building Company, in Olton, said: "No one knew what was causing the problem and I spent days in hospital. It was only a special balloon to take the pressure off my heart and drugs that were keeping me alive.
"I was extremely lucky as within days of being put on the transplant list I had received a heart from someone else who had died and was given a second chance at life."
Stefan, a pupil at former Byng Kenrick Central School, in Tile Cross, added: "I'm so grateful to the donor. I thought my life was over but that person is the only reason I am out of hospital and back on my feet.
"I encourage everyone to sign up to the donor register."
The teenager has been given a helping hand by parents Una and Ian and girlfriend Chantella Shaban, aged 18, and from Hampton-in-Arden, Solihull, since his operation on June 10.
A hospital spokeswoman said: "Viral infections which attack the heart like it did with Stefan are very rare.
"We only have around 30 patients a year who need a heart transplant at the QE because a virus has attacked their heart tissue."
But Stefan, a keen footballer who used to play for the Sunday League Grosvenor Park team, in Walsall, will have to wait months before he is fit enough to play again.