I’ve got a new heart - and a new start

Hannah Kelleher (21) from West Leigh Havant. She had a heart transplant in 2011 at Harefield Hospital.  ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (123824-099)
Hannah Kelleher (21) from West Leigh Havant. She had a heart transplant in 2011 at Harefield Hospital. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (123824-099)
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THIS time last year Hannah Kelleher was waiting for a call that could save her life.

Hannah, now 21, needed a transplant after tests revealed she had restrictive cardiomyopathy – a condition which means the heart does not fill with blood properly.

Hannah, of Moorgreen Road, West Leigh, said: ‘When I was 18 I went on holiday and got pneumonia.

‘When I was in Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, they saw my heart was very enlarged.

‘I was referred to a cardiologist who said it was restrictive cardiomyopathy.

‘I was then referred to the Harefield Hospital, in London.’

Hannah needed to wait two years while she took medication to ensure she would be strong enough to survive the operation.

Then in September 2011, she was told she was ready for a heart transplant as soon as a match was found.

Sometimes it can take months or even years for a suitable match, but on December 11, Hannah, was given the good news.

Now Hannah is calling for people to sign up as organ donors to help others in her situation.

Her comments echo those of 18-year-old Nadine Blake, from Warren Park.

The News told last week how Nadine, who has cystic fibrosis, has just months to live and was also campaigning for people to sign up as donors.

Hannah said: ‘I got a call at 7.30am on December 11 from the hospital saying they may have found a match.

‘I didn’t think it was going to happen. But after they did some checks they found it was a perfect match.’

Hannah’s operation lasted five-and-a-half hours and then she spent almost four weeks recovering in hospital.

She said: ‘I know my donor was a woman aged 48. I thank her and her family for what they have done. I was always quite skinny and would feel sick after exercise, but I just put it down to something else.

‘Since my transplant I’ve been going to the gym and not feeling sick after exercising. Without a doubt this has saved my life. I would urge people to get more information about becoming an organ donor.’

Nine lives could be helped by being a donor

UP TO nine lives can be saved if people sign up to the organ donor register.

Trish Collins, team manager for the south central organ donation team for NHS Blood and Transplant, said: ‘With heart donors, you don’t really have an age limit, but it’s more to do with health issues.

‘For people that do carry a donor card, we would recommend they discuss this with their families.

‘We can’t stress the importance of people signing up to the register.

‘You can save up to the lives of nine people by donating your liver, kidneys, pancreas, heart, lungs and small bowel. You can also donate tissue.’

For more information, go to organdonation.nhs.uk.