I’m Kathryn, married to Rob with two daughters, Sarah and Rose. My problems started years ago and were mainly symptoms of fainting, but after extensive tests, doctors were unable to find anything wrong with me.
Eventually, when I was 49 and my symptoms had got worse, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PH), which is an incurable and progressive rare disease that damages the lungs and the right side of the heart. My disease was classified as severe on diagnosis and my heart was failing.
I was quickly placed on a heavy regime of medication including a twenty-four seven, intravenous drug to help my heart and lungs. My condition was deteriorating when I was referred for transplant at Papworth Hospital, where I was already being treated. I needed a heart and double lung transplant and I was accepted on the transplant list in September 2011.
It was all a massive shock and I made adjustments to my lifestyle. I gave up my career as a teacher and paced myself with what little I could manage. I lost my independence, but was happy to use a wheelchair so I could get out and enjoy precious time with my family.
Eventually after a two years wait, I got my transplant call and in September 2013 I received my precious gift of a new heart and lungs. Life is now so different, I am healthy and well again and the wheelchair has gone. I can walk for miles, exercise and do all those simple things once more like driving and shopping. I’ve got my independence back.
I will always be grateful to my donor and their family for giving me the gift of a new life and for giving me this second chance to make the most of life. I know first hand how precious and unpredictable life can be.