I was born with a hole in my heart and used to have yearly check-ups at Stoke Mandeville Hospital. It was never really seen as a problem and no other problems were ever detected with my heart and so I carried on doing this until it closed up aged eleven/twelve.
When I was fifteen I went out to visit one of my school friends and suddenly felt a horrible sensation in my chest. I didn’t tell anyone for a few days but when I did I was taken straight to hospital where it was discovered that my Mitral heart valve had collapsed. I was given a DC cardioversion and this put my heart back into a normal rhythm.
My heart valve wasn’t fixed as quickly however, and it was a few months afterwards that I collapsed and was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital where they repaired my valve within a fortnight. Things went smoothly for quite a few years with just the problem of my heart going into AF every so often when I was unwell or stressed and so I had lots of cardioversions during this time.
I’ve had about thirty-five cardioversions over the years but they no longer work. I’ve also had three ablations, none of which have worked either. I’ve had angiograms and lots of other procedures as well as another valve repair in 2007 when I was thirty-four and they discovered that my Mitral valve had never developed properly. This was successful but I didn’t actually feel much better and so after numerous tests and visits to different Cardiologists it was decided that a heart transplant is my only option. I have restrictive heart failure, constant AF, a massively enlarged heart chamber, my heart doesn’t fill up and empty properly and is not only restricted at the valve site due to so much surgery but the outside is also restricted in expanding and closing again. I had my transplant assessment at Papworth in July last year and they say I will need a transplant in a maximum of four to five years.
Since then I have had to give up work which has been very hard as I have worked since school and am a very sociable person and love seeing lots of people everyday. As a result, I have decided to do some voluntary work at my local British Heart Foundation shop and do two half days a week when I can and I absolutely love it.
My goal is to keep my heart going as long as possible, enjoy every moment because you never know what is around the corner. I also believe that a positive attitude helps a lot and can bring positive things in your life. I have become an avid supporter/campaigner for organ donation and am on the register myself as everything else I have works fine.