A heart, a cat, and a rugby star: Three good news stories from France

Our pick of three happy news stories to take you into the weekend

From a lost and found cat, to a midnight heart transplant wake up call, to a surprise pro-player ticket gift, it has been a heartwarming week in France
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1. Woman woken up by police for a heart transplant

A woman in southwest France who has waited for a heart transplant for seven years had a shock this month when gendarmes woke her in the middle of the night to say a donor heart had been found.

The gendarmerie in Charente-Maritime received a call from the woman’s doctor at the heart transplant centre le service de transplantation cardiaque du centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) in Bordeaux. The doctor turned to the emergency service after having failed to contact the woman himself.

The patient, in her 40s, had been waiting for a heart transplant for seven years. The gendarmerie said that the doctor told them: “She is in Charente-Maritime, and there is a heart [for her], but the clock is ticking.” Donor organs can only be stored for so long before they have to be transplanted or destroyed.

Within 10 minutes, the gendarmes arrived at the woman’s house in Saint-Simon-de-Bordes, and asked her to “call her doctor”.

Soon after, the woman and her husband “jumped in the car and drove off to Bordeaux. Two hours later, the operation was able to start at the hospital, and it was a success”, reported France Bleu.

Speaking to the local radio, one of the gendarmes involved in the callout said: “Usually interventions like this are sadly linked to disputes, alcohol, or drugs. An intervention that isn’t about that for once, is really nice. We were able to save a life, which is extraordinary. It’s heartwarming.”

Read more: French boy, 12, who inspired a song finally receives heart transplant

2. Cat found alive and well 10 years after being lost

A cat in Ardennes, Grand Est, has been found alive and well 10 years after he disappeared. Néo, who has distinctive orange and white stripes, went missing from his home in Maubert-Fontaine (Grand Est) a decade ago.

His owner Ophélie said losing him was a “dramatic” event in her life, and she had been keeping an eye out for him ever since. She posted photos and missing notices online and around her home.

A few days ago, Carole, the president of cat protection society Les Moustaches, received a phone call late at night. She told FranceInfo: “I wouldn’t normally answer [so late], but something told me to do it.”

On the phone was a nurse from a clinic in nearby Revin, who had found a cat. Carole was worried that the animal was injured, and the next morning she went to pick it up. It was then that she discovered that the pet was none other than Néo, who had been reported missing just 20km away in 2013.

She called Ophélie, who recognised the cat straight away, despite his now more advanced years.

In Revin, residents did not realise that the cat was missing from elsewhere, and had fed him for several years. It was only when he ventured into the town centre that he was found.

Néo has received a clean bill of health from the vet, who said he was in surprisingly-good condition for an animal that had lived on the streets for so long. Ophélie- who now lives in Charleville-Mézières - has said that Néo has not changed much, is still good with children, and has a calm personality.

Yet, Carole from Les Moustaches said that the case showed why it is so important for owners to identify their pets and register them with a microchip, so they can be easily returned home if lost. She also advised owners to sterilise their cats, as this can extend their life by five to six years, she said.

Read more: Pet owners in France urged to microchip animals

Read more: What is I-CAD? France’s pet database explained

3. Former pro-rugbyman helps a kid who was scammed out of the World Cup

A former pro-Rugby player gave a young supporter of French rugby a free ticket for the World Cup-opening France-New Zealand World Cup match, after his family fell victim to a scam.

Lino, a young supporter, travelled with his father for six hours to the Stade de France in Paris on September 8, only to discover at the entrance that they had been sold fake tickets and could not enter.

But all was not lost; James O'Connor, former pro player for the Queensland Reds (Australia), was also in attendance, and had planned to watch the match with a friend who was "very late" for kick-off. Seeing the father and son’s predicament, the former player then offered Lino his seat.

The father had to wait outside the stadium, but was very happy that his son was able to watch the match after all, sitting next to a former pro, no less.

Read more: See all dates and cities in France for Rugby World Cup 2023

Read more: How to watch the rugby world cup on French TV for free

Mr O’Connor wrote on Instagram: “Synchronicity/karma/fate/luck by chance my mate was running late (very late) so I now have a new friend. Lino accepted the ticket and the rest is history…we had a great time. Definitely tested my French, that’s for sure.

“What a great start to the Cup and even better company.”

Lino’s father replied to the post, writing: “My son Lino had an extraordinary experience thanks to you James and Sebastian (the late friend!!!).

“You filled him with joy and happiness... his eyes are still shining, and will do for a long time. I’ll never forget what you did for my son. You are a very beautiful person, as is Sebastian. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.”

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