Lad who ‘died twice’ during operation proposed before it – in case new heart ‘didn’t love girlfriend’

A young footballer who needed a transplant after he “died” twice during heart surgery, proposed to his girlfriend before the operation – “in case his new heart didn’t love her.”

Brooklyn Peakman, 20, suffered a stroke that left him technically dead for 17 minutes and ended up in a coma when his original procedure went wrong.

The talented goalie’s family were told that he was unlikely to recover. He beat the odds but, after coming out of the coma at Christmas 2021, he was warned that he needed an urgent heart transplant, The Mirror reports.

His girlfriend Ellie Spencer, 18, had been living with Brooklyn and his mum Kelly throughout the Covid-19 lockdown.

He said: “After they told me I needed a new heart, I told Ellie we’d better get engaged – just in case my new heart didn’t love her.

Brooklyn shows his scars after returning home to Prestatyn, North Wales

Brooklyn on the day he got engaged to Ellie
Brooklyn on the day he got engaged to Ellie

“It turns out my new heart loves her as much as the old one.

“I can’t wait to see her walk down the aisle and call her my wife. It’ll be a day I didn’t think I’d get to see.”

Brooklyn, who played for Prestatyn Town in north Wales, had a heart defect at birth and had two operations within a day of being born.

His heart’s two main blood vessels were the wrong way round, sending blood flowing in the wrong directions.

Brooklyn was left fighting for his life when he suffered a stroke following a heart operation
Brooklyn was left fighting for his life when he suffered a stroke following a heart operation

In the weeks before getting a new organ last month at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, he had the agony of two aborted lifesaving operations.

The first was called off four hours in, with Brooklyn’s chest already cut open, when the donor heart started to fail.

Doctors canceled a second one at the theater doors because the donor organ was ruled a poor match.

Brooklyn finally had a successful op on St Patrick’s Day – and has nicknamed his new organ “Paddy”.

Brooklyn as a baby in hospital
Brooklyn as a baby in hospital

He proposed to Ellie, who he met at school, before being wheeled down for his first transplant attempt. She said: “He smiled when I said yes, I think it relaxed him. He was quite anxious after coming so close to death.

“I wanted him to go down for his transplant knowing how much I loved him. My focus for now is getting him fully recovered.”

Kelly, also mum to Harrison, 15, and Maggie May, 18, said: “I gasped when the doctors said they might have to switch off life-support.

“They could see so much damage they couldn’t see how he could survive.

Brooklyn with his mom Kelly
Brooklyn with his mom Kelly

“We went through a see-saw of emotions, worried he might decline and be taken off the transplant list.”

His operation means Brooklyn will not be able to play football again.

But he still harbors ambitions of being a coach.

He said: “It’s a blow, but I’ve got a new heart. It means I’ll be able to do lots I couldn’t before my op.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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