Noel Eagleton had already suffered two heart attacks by the time he sat in a doctor's office in Sydney in November 2000.
The Warilla man was asked if he'd considered applying for the transplant list.
"I said, 'I don't know, my daughter's wedding is coming up in April'," he said.
"This doctor said, 'you've got to put your name down, or you won't be here in April when your daughter's wedding is on'.
"It hits home when a doctor tells you that - he's basically giving you five months maximum to live.
"Luckily for me, on January 10, they called me and said, 'come on up, we've got a heart for you'."
This week marks 20 years since Mr Eagleton, now aged 71 and retired, underwent a successful heart transplant.
For much of his working life the father of two was an electrician, but was driving a cement truck when he had the first heart attack at age 49, brought about by a virus.
After a late night shift, Mr Eagleton woke to back-up for work in the morning, and had "the worst case of flu I've ever got". It wasn't until I started to get some tinglings in my left hand, I said to the boss, 'I've gotta go mate, I'm feeling too crook'.
"He asked if I could do one more load, which ended up being four loads. We started work at six, I went to the doctor's at midday, so I worked six hours when I should have been at the hospital.
"The doctor thought I had a flu or virus too, but he took some blood tests just in case."
The doctor rang Mr Eagleton that afternoon, saying he needed to go to hospital.
"I thought, 'I'm not going to no bloody hospital, (just to) sit in casualty for two or three hours. I'm too sick for that'.
"He said, 'you won't be waiting in casualty, mate'. So I drove up there - I still didn't think I'd had a heart attack."
The second attack occurred about 12 months later, at age 50. "From that second heart attack it was all downhill," he said.
Frustrated as he saw friends who had experienced heart problems undergo bypasses and other procedures, Mr Eagleton wondered what could be done for him.
He was eventually sent to Sydney for a PET scan, "and from that they knew exactly what was going on".
His name was submitted for the transplant list, and within about a month received a phone call that they had a heart for him.
The transplant took place on January 11, 2001 at St Vincent's Hospital Sydney.
Mr Eagleton has never been able to access information about the donor, at the request of the donor's family.
"I got to the hospital and about 8pm (on January 10) they told me, 'give your wife a kiss goodbye and we'll send you in'. It was a bit scary.
"They've got you on a trolley, wheeling you up there, your wife's standing there bawling her eyes out. I didn't really care whether I died or not to be honest - I couldn't keep going the way I was going."
Prior to his operation, Mr Eagleton was active, enjoying activities including scuba diving, hang-gliding and water-skiing.
Nowadays, he said his past health issues have impacted on his quality of life, and as a result he's had to trade in the outdoor activities for gardening.
"There are ongoing things - bones deteriorate, so I've had two new hips," he said.
"Muscles deteriorate, so I've had a couple of hernias done. Skin cancers as well.
"But my family's happy I'm here, and I'm happy.
"The alternative was I wasn't going to be here at all. I got to see my daughter married, got to see my son get married, and three grandkids.
"I have a good life."
It's a sentiment echoed by his wife of 48 years, Mary.
"It just makes me feel lucky to have still got him, because otherwise I wouldn't have him here," she said.
"I've been really privileged. It doesn't feel like 20 years - the time has actually gone fast. Hopefully we'll get at least another 10 years."
What would Mr Eagleton say to someone having concerns regarding heart health?
"Even if you don't know it's a heart attack - you don't die from embarrassment, but you could die from not going to the hospital," he said.
"And if you do get a transplant, make sure you do the medication they give you."
Saying 'yes' to donation
Australia has doubled its organ donation rate in the past decade, and each year more people are saying 'yes' to organ donation.
Juliana Celcer, acting general manager for the NSW Organ and Tissue Donation Service said there were 113 hearts transplanted nationally in 2019.
"In 2019, 548 deceased organ donors saved the lives of 1444 Australians," she said.
"It is a common misconception that everyone is able to donate their organs when they die. To be an organ donor, the individual must die in a hospital's intensive care unit and their organs must be functioning well before they are transplanted."
Ms Celcer said the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted on donation numbers.
She said there was an initial suspension of kidney and pancreas transplant programs nationally from late March through to mid-May.
"Liver, heart, lung and paediatric transplant programs have continued throughout the pandemic.
"With 1700 Australians currently waitlisted for a transplant, organ donors in Australia are still needed, and it is important to consider organ donation, discuss it with your family and register at donatelife.gov.au."
According to the Heart Foundation, the most common cause of a heart attack is coronary heart disease.
The foundation says a heart attack occurs when a coronary artery, which supplies blood to your heart, becomes blocked.
*The most common sign of a heart attack is chest discomfort or pain, which can spread to your arms, neck, jaw or back.
*Chest discomfort or pain can last for several minutes or come and go.
*A heart attack requires emergency treatment to restore blood flow to your heart.
*Always call Triple Zero (000) immediately if you think you or someone else may be having a heart attack