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Super fit Sydney man, 38, now faces a heart transplant after Covid-19 scarred his organs

A fit and healthy Sydney man who caught coronavirus 18 months ago is now facing the shocking reality of needing a life-saving heart transplant.  

Self-confessed 'fitness addict' Rob Hodgson collapsed in his home six months after making what he had believed to be a full recovery from Covid-19. 

The 38-year-old prosthetist had developed a cough a few days after returning from a work trip in New York last March and soon began experiencing severe back pain.

Rob Hodgson, 38, (pictured)  contracted coronavirus 18 months ago and despite making a full recovery now faces the shocking reality of needing a life-saving heart transplant

Rob's similarly fitness-focused wife Amanda was also infected with the virus and described the pain as 'glandular fever on steroids'. 

'It was like having this thing inside of me eating away at every ounce of energy I had,' the performance coach told Daily Mail Australia. 

'We're super fit and motivated people, I thought - is this the reward we get for making an effort to be healthy?' 

Amanda said she could barely walk from her bedroom to her ensuite and was bedridden for several days during the two weeks it took the pair to recover. 

Not ones to let Covid-19 have the last laugh, the couple threw themselves into a fitness program to prove to themselves they had made a full recovery. 

Rob, a cycling enthusiast, took part in an epic 1300km bike ride in October to raise money for kids cancer. The healthy couple could never expected what came next. 

Amanda said her husband had been cycling in the home gym of their western Sydney home during a seemingly normal day last November. 

Rob's similarly fitness-focused wife Amanda (pictured) was also infected with the virus and described the pain as 'glandular fever on steroids'

After he complained of not feeling well, Amanda said she assured her husband it was probably just the heat, not for a moment thinking to link his condition to Covid-19. 

Just 45 minutes later Rob collapsed in the lounge room, his Apple Watch recording his heartbeat at a rapid 210 beats per minute. 

Paramedics who treated the fitness fanatic advised him to visit a GP the following day but ultimately decided he didn't need to be hospitalised.  

Amanda said the irony was that NSW Health had asked the couple to come to Westmead Hospital for a check-up six months after recovering from Covid. 

Rob had decided not to attend his test due to work commitments, telling his wife he felt the test was unnecessary due to how fit and healthy he had been feeling.  

While the performance coach was at the hospital she casually mentioned her husband's unexpected collapse to the doctor, whose response surprised her. 

'I called him and said they seem to be concerned about your episode,' she said, adding the doctor scheduled Rob a cardiologist appointment the same week.

The 38-year-old had an echocardiogram test which determined his heart was too weak to endure a 'stress test' which involved running on a treadmill.

Rob was eventually diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease that limits the amount of blood the heart is able to pump around the body. 

The 38-year-old prosthetist (pictured) had developed a cough a few days after returning from a work trip in New York last March but only began experience heart irregularities in November

Medical specialists determined coronavirus had left extensive scarring on his heart after sweeping through the organ. 

'It's not common but it happens. People just usually recover,' Amanda explained. 

'The amount of blood he pumps out of his heart is really low percent so the good muscle that isn't scarred is really stretched.'

Cardiologists recommended Rob be urgently fitted with an internal defibrillator, telling the patient he might never need it again, or it might save his life. 

Amanda described this period of their lives as 'really tumultuous', with Christmas around the corner and her children, aged 7 and 9, starting to ask hard questions.  

The next major blow to his recovery came on January 5 when Amanda heard a blood-curdling scream from the home gym. 

She rushed downstairs to find her husband leaning on the kitchen bench trying to absorb the painful shock of his defibrillator going off. 

Amanda told her husband to lie down and breathe but his heart couldn't regulate, triggering a second shock from the defibrillator just 45 seconds later. 

Rob has described the sensation to his wife as the feeling of touching an electric wire fence but having the pain come from 'the inside out'.  

Cardiologists at Westmead Hospital recommended Rob be urgently fitted with an internal defibrillator, telling the patient he might never need it again, or it might save his life

Six months later the defibrillator went off again, just as Rob had been able to overcome his fear of the device through doing cardiac rehab on his bike. 

The 38-year-old went in for heart surgery in Westmead Hospital last Monday, with the  results bringing the family more distressing news. 

Rob's cardiologist said the remaining muscle in his heart was heading towards cardiac failure and referred him to a transplant specialist. 

Amanda said from her own research the average wait time for a heart transplant is six months, which she says she feels grateful for.  

She said ever since she met him 20 years ago, Rob has been passionate about health and exercise with his love for sport making up a huge part of his identity.  

He is allowed to go for long walks but can only exercise when Amanda is at home, who sits and watches him at the home gym to make sure he is safe. 

Amanda said it's sometimes hard to spend time in the cardiac ward surrounded by unfit and elderly people seeking the same treatment as her husband. 

The performance coach said she experienced a 'tough day' recently where she couldn't help but feel shaky and emotional. 

'I wake up every morning with one eye open, unsure of how I'm going to feel each day,' she said. 

The Sydney mother said she is forced to speak to Rob in 'nooks and crannies' of the house because her two sons don't know the extent of their dad's condition.

'They know that he can't exercise and has less energy, but we do have to start talking about it,' she said, adding she wanted to wait until the school holidays were over.

Amanda said since sharing their story on social media the family has received an 'incredible' response with strangers and friends alike ready to 'jump up and help'.  

'Sharing our story has been beautiful, it's really helped us,' she said. 

'I've always been upfront and honest about sharing the good and the bad in my life, high performance is learning about how to get back up when you're down.' 

Amanda (pictured) said since sharing their story on social media the family has received an 'incredible' response with strangers and friends alike ready to 'jump up and help'

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