RON Carter has received the life-changing transplant he has waited more than nine months for - and it is thought to have come all the way from Belfast.

Relieved wife Jenny, 52, said she was delighted and felt cautiously optimistic.

"It has been frightening," she said.

"But it's what he wanted and when I have seen him he looks quite well," she said.

"There's a long way to go yet - it has been one hell of a day."

Ron, 59, of Helmsdale, Haydon Wick, was told at about 9pm on Tuesday by doctors at Papworth Hospital, in Cambridge, that there was a possibility of an available heart and immediately phoned his wife.

"It's all changed every day," said Jenny.

"I got home last night to where I'm staying and had a phone call from Ron to say they've got a heart."

The couple then began an anxious wait for the heart to arrive and endless discussions with surgeons and anaesthetists.

"We were up all night and co-ordinators were talking to us," said Jenny.

"They had to get the heart here and it had to be checked over."

Ron underwent a five-hour operation and is now in the critical care unit under sedation, but all the family have been in to see him.

Jenny said: "The next few days it's fingers crossed, but he's in the best hands possible.

"They might try to bring him around tonight and in 24 hours he should be out in a normal ward."

His three sons were all informed and came from London, Bristol and Swindon to be there.

Unfortunately none of them arrived in time to see Ron before he went into theatre.

"One missed him by one minute," Jenny added.

Surgeons said they are pleased so far with the operation, though Ron has got some bleeding due to the blood-thinning tablets he was given.

Jenny said: "They said things had gone fairly well, but when you have already had heart surgery your breast bone's already been broken.

"They had a few real problems with that. But they came out at 1pm and said everything went well and in an hour's time he would be in intensive care."

Ron helped to launch the Swindon Advertiser's Gift of Life drive to increase the number of organ and blood donors in the area, and a documentary team from Channel Five has also been following Ron's transplant process.

Ron's transplant was also part of a trial using a beating box' method to transport the heart without stopping it.

"You know Ron - he signs up for everything," said Jenny.