Sisters look forward to ‘normal’ festive season after heart transplant surgeries

Two sisters, both of whom have had heart transplants, look forward to celebrating the first regular festive season in years after fully recovering.

Allison Kerr and Karen Owens were diagnosed with familial dilated cardiomyopathy, the genetic heart condition that led to their father’s death in 2005.

As their symptoms progressed, the sisters discovered that their only option was to have a heart transplant, and both had to be protected during the pandemic due to their vulnerability.

Ms. Kerr, 55, received a new heart at the NHS Golden Jubilee in Clydebank in 2020, while her sister received a new heart in 2021.

I don’t know the name of my donor but I call her Angela because she is an angel to me.

Karen Owens

Now they look forward to being able to fully celebrate Christmas and the new year.

Ms. Owens, 58, said: “I was taking a bath the other day and all of a sudden I felt good. I felt normal. I don’t know the name of my donor, but I call her Angela because she is an angel to me.

“I got pretty emotional about it at home, this part is pretty hard to get over. I said ‘thank you Angela’ out loud.

“I felt dull and lifeless for so long that now I feel like I have music in my head again. I haven’t been able to celebrate for a long time: I’ve been in the hospital for the past two years, on holidays, on my birthday and on the anniversary of my transplant.

“It’s great to feel this way and finally be able to have a normal Christmas and New Year, and I can’t wait.”

Although the transplant went well, Ms. Owens spent 205 days in the hospital last year due to other medical issues.

Shortly after the transplant, he developed two lung infections that had nothing to do with his heart but came from the soil he used in his share.

Doctors later discovered a precancerous growth on his foot that required surgery.

He said: “It really affected me more mentally than anything else. It was all coming together and it was scary.”

The NHS Golden Jubilee is home to the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service, Scotland’s adult heart transplant centre.

The team has performed 28 heart transplants since April of this year.

The nuns from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, were known for running fundraisers for charities before they fell ill and are now starting to do so again.

They worked with Marie Coyle Robertson, another transplant patient from the NHS Golden Jubilee, to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation, thank the team that cares for them, and also celebrate the memory of all those who donate and donate organs. gift of life.

Ms. Kerr, who has two stepchildren and three grandchildren, said: “During October we walked 100,000 steps and worked with Marie to raise money and raise awareness for the heart transplant service.

“If you’re fit and healthy, that’s usually very doable: but if you’ve had a recent heart transplant, it’s much more difficult, but we got it done and raised £2,000 in the process.”

Jonathan Dalzell, consultant cardiologist and transplant service clinical leader, said the transplant unit at Golden Jubilee has seen a marked increase in the number of heart transplants over the past three years.

He said the national change to the “giving up” organ donation system likely contributed to this increase in transplant efficiency.

Dr Dalzell added: “It has been a privilege for our team to look after Allison and Karen throughout their journey, and now seeing them thrive and overcome a 100,000-step challenge makes our work worthwhile.

“We are so grateful to them for what they have done for the service and hope they have a great festive season.”

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