A MAN who has undergone more than 20 major operations – the first being when he was just nine days old – is now working as a volunteer for a heart charity as “payback”.
Battling Hartlepool man Michael Croll was born with five life-threatening heart defects.
And in a bid to keep him alive, doctors over the years, have had to perform a number of operations, including open heart surgery twice to install artificial valves and several artery enlargements.
Despite his health problems, the plucky 20-year-old has lived as normal a life as possible and recently completed a course at Hartlepool Sixth Form College in health and social care.
But, as he gears up to tackling a course in nursing at university, Michael decided he wanted to pay something back to the British Heart Foundation (BHF) - the national charity which helps people with conditions like he has had.
And he managed to secure a job working as a volunteer part-time, in the BHF shop which is attached to Middleton Grange Shopping Centre, off Victoria Road, in Hartlepool.
Today, Michael, who lives with his mum Mandy Croll, 46, and dad Jimmy Croll, 69, said he was delighted to be working for the charity. “BHF is very close to my heart, obviously with everything that’s gone on with me,” he said.
“The charity raises money to help people like me and I wanted to pay them back.
“It’s such a great feeling that after everything that’s been done to help me, I’m now helping other people in a way.”
The former Brougham Primary School pupil, who also has two brothers, has been stationed on the shop floor helping to price up and sell a whole range of goods including furniture and electrical items.
He added: “It’s brilliant. The staff are lovely and friendly and we get some really nice customers in.
“It’s a really nice experience and it feels right.
“I’m just a little cog in a big machine that’s helping people.
“I don’t have the most important job but every sale that I make goes to BHF.
“It feels fantastic to be able to do that.”
Michael says he cannot really complain about his present health but is suffering from a few chest pains every now and then, which suggests he is potentially getting close to needing another valve replacement as the artificial one he currently has is deteriorating.