Bank worker Samantha Bell was just 22 when she was diagnosed with advanced heart disease that meant her heart could stop at any minute.
“I never thought something like this would happen to me,“ she says. “I was very frightened. I’d gone from being healthy, to being told I’d need medication for the rest of my life – and perhaps a transplant.”
At a time of life when most young people are living life to the full, Samantha’s condition severely limited what she could do. At first she was fitted with a mini defibrillator inside her chest – both to regulate her heartbeat, and shock her heart back to life if it stopped. Frighteningly, it did stop while she was having dinner on a family night out.
She then became even more seriously ill, putting her liver and kidneys at risk of failure. Doctors moved her onto the urgent heart transplant list – and as she recalls, “I knew things were not looking good for me. If I didn’t get a new heart soon I would die.”
Thanks to the generosity of an organ donor, Samantha got the transplant operation she so desperately needed and the operation was a success. She was able to leave hospital just three weeks after her operation.
Now nearly a year on from her transplant, Samantha is focusing on the future. “Hopefully one day I’ll get back to work as a personal banker,” she says. “I just want to be able to live life as a normal girl in her twenties.”
She doesn’t know who her donor was, but says “I would like to find out more when I’m well enough and write to their family to thank them. Thanks to their gift, they’ve saved my life.”