A Romsey woman who had a heart transplant and then suddenly liked pizza and coffee is celebrating 20 years with her 'Italian heart'.

Jeannette Cole, 72, fittingly ate pizza with her family on May 31 to mark the occasion.

The percentage of heart transplant patients who are still alive after 20 years is 15 per cent.

Speaking about life after the operation, Jeannette said: “You have to make sure you look after yourself. There’s medication that you have to take every 12 hours.

“I have to be quite strict with myself, but it’s much better than being dead.”

Daily Echo:

Jeanette’s husband Richard joked about his wife’s change in taste after the transplant.

He said: “Before the operation, Jeanette didn’t like pizza, coffee or red wine. But afterwards she did, so I always tell her she was given an Italian heart.”

After 20 years, Jeannette is still deeply grateful to the team at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, including surgeon Stephen Large, who began working there in 1989.

“There aren’t words good enough to describe them,” she said. “They were the most supportive and caring people within the NHS you could imagine.

“I can’t praise them enough.”

Jeannette writes to her donor family to thank them every year.

She wants to encourage those who are not listed as donors to sign up, as it could mean the difference between life and death for someone like her.