My name is Ella Tovell, and I’m sixteen years old. When I was three months old I was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, so I was blue lighted down to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and remained there for a few weeks.
I had a transplant assessment when I was four, but I was stable enough to keep my own heart for a while yet. After that my condition was monitored with drugs and I stayed stable for fourteen years.
In April 2011 I went for an appointment at Great Ormond Street to the cardiac clinic. I was told that my heart didn’t look as good at it previously had and so my drugs were altered to see if any improvements were made. Six months later when I went for my next appointment, I was told I had pulmonary hypertension: because the left side of my heart was so weak, the right side was having to work twice as hard and when blood was being pumped to my lungs, some of it was staying there and the pressure in my lungs were increasing.
In October 2011 I was told that Great Ormond Street wanted to perform a cardiac catheter to see how high the pressure was. However when I had the catheter it didn’t go well at all and I ended up on intensive care as my heart didn’t like the anaesthetic. The next day when I woke up a doctor came to see my and told me we needed to start thinking about a transplant. All I remember was being terrified and just crying to my mum and dad.
Anyway, a month later, in November 2011, I went on the transplant list and four days later my mum woke me up in the middle of the night and told me they had a heart for me. It’s all a bit of a blur, but I just remember saying it was too soon and that I was so scared. I got to the hospital and my mum went on the bed with me down to theatre and I was put to sleep. The operation was a success and everything went smoothly. The doctors expected me to be on intensive care for three weeks and in hospital for a couple of months because of how poorly I was, but I was on intensive care for only three days and out of hospital in two weeks in time for my fifteenth birthday and Christmas.
It hasn’t been without its complications since the transplant but I can honestly say it is the best thing that has ever happened to me; it was so hard at the time but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I’ve met so many amazing people through my transplant and I have had the chance to raise over £6000 for the hospital who have cared for me for so long and continue to do so, but more importantly I have been able to see first hand how important organ donation is. Without my donor I wouldn’t be where I am now, which is doing my GCSE’s and soon I am going to college. I get to live each day like a normal child, which is what I have always wanted. Growing up I had a completely different childhood to all of my friends but I always told myself that it was because I was strong enough to handle it, whereas someone else might not have been: I wouldn’t change anything about my life at all.