STUART Carter has spoken of the family's delight at how his dad is recovering after a heart transplant.

Ron's story led the Advertiser's Gift of Life initiative in March after we told how he had waited more than nine months for a heart transplant.

Then on Tuesday he got the call that an available heart was waiting and he underwent surgery at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge.

Stuart, 36, who lives in London, says his father is now making such good progress that he and some other family members headed home for a good night's sleep.

He said: "He's still in intensive care unit, but he's the wellest person in intensive care. All the signs are extremely good. He looks unbelievably well considering he's had a major operation."

Ron, 59, of Haydon Wick, was even asking if he could play tennis in the future.

Stuart was alerted to the situation on Monday evening, but got final confirmation from his brother Trevor at about 4am.

Ron was finally brought off sedation at about 9pm last night after a four to five hour operation on Tuesday morning.

The family were told it could be hours before he came round, but only 20 minutes later Ron's wife Jenny and son Trevor were there when he opened his eyes.

Jenny said: "At first we wanted to rush out and tell the others that he was awake and we were all taking it in turn to see him."

At first because of tubes he could not speak, but Stuart said his dad is now awake and talking. There were complications due to the blood thinning tablets Ron was taking for the valve he already had in his old heart.

Ron's wife Jenny said: "He was losing quite a lot of blood and they thought they could not stop it without going back into theatre. Luckily doctors have managed to stop the bleeding.

"I thought he was going to look pale and drawn, but he wasn't - he looks better than when he came into the hospital.

"The hospital staff tell you everything, they're with you and they're just fantastic.

"Because I was so relieved when he came out of the operating theatre I said I could hug you - and he stood up and came over and hugged me."

Jenny added that her thoughts were also with the family they are told are in Belfast that has lost a loved one.

"Some family somewhere has given my husband the gift of life - in nine months he could have been dead, " she said.

"I'm getting choked that someone somewhere - what they are going through now you can't imagine."