Mile­stone with new plea for more donors I had heart trans­plant as a baby & I’m still full of life at 30

The People - - NEWS FEATURES & -

Dr Gareth Parry. Kaylee re­called: “You have to have a sense of hu­mour when you’re in hos­pi­tal and we def­i­nitely did. “You ei­ther sink or swim, and we swam like hell. “We’d go to our ap­point­ments in Min­ion one­sies and it got to the point when Gareth said he’d have to sep­a­rate us be­cause we wound him up so much.” Joanne passed away sud­denly in 2016, aged just 40, af­ter her kid­neys failed and she was struck down by pneu­mo­nia. Her mum Pauline rang Kaylee with the news, prompt­ing her to burst into floods of tears.

Kaylee said: “When that phone call came I was gut­ted. My mum grabbed me and just hugged me.

“It didn’t sink in un­til Joanne’s funeral that she was gone. Then I felt so alone.”

Kaylee’s an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion on Oc­to­ber 14, in which she will walk across the Mil­len­nium Bridge over the River Tyne, will be a bit­ter­sweet oc­ca­sion with­out Joanne by her side.

She said: “Joanne will be at the front of my mind and she’ll be with me in spirit. I’ll get through it but it will be hard.”

Three years ago both friends were re-ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal at the same time with se­ri­ous health prob­lems, in­clud­ing heart fail­ure.

Kaylee said: “I nearly died but be­ing poorly to­gether was a huge sup­port for us both. We helped each other out.” Af­ter Kaylee was re­leased from hos­pi­tal her men­tal health suf­fered and she plunged into de­pres­sion.

She was told by doc­tors she had to give up her job as a vis­ual mer­chan­diser for clothes gi­ant H&M and stop do­ing any ex­er­cise, forc­ing her to give up train­ing for the World Trans­plant Games.

She had com­peted in the Bri­tish ver­sion since she was only two years old, start­ing with the wellie throw and grad­u­at­ing to the 100m and re­lay. She went on to rep­re­sent the UK in ath­let­ics, bad­minton and 10pin bowl­ing, win­ning a re­lay gold medal at the World Games in South Africa – to the joy of watch­ing mum Carol and step­dad Steven.

With ex­er­cise de­nied her she “went off the rails”, trashed her room and even left home for a while.

Af­ter see­ing a psy­chol­o­gist she is grad­u­ally get­ting her life back on track. She said: “Trans­plan­ta­tion is a roller­coaster and once you’re on it you have the ups and downs. But I love my heart and I’m very proud of it.”

Kaylee’s mum Carol, 49, said: “I am thrilled she has reached this mile­stone. I re­mem­ber doc­tors say­ing she might not get a donor or live to be one.

“I t ’ s an i ncred­i­ble achieve­ment not only for Kaylee but the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion too.”

TO sign the Or­gan Donor Reg­is­ter visit www. or­gan­do­na­tion.nhs.uk

WIN­NER: Kaylee as UK ath­lete at Trans­plant Games MIR­A­CLE: Carol and baby Kaylee in 1987 and, right, on the 25th an­niver­sary of her op PRIDE: In South Africa with Carol and Steven

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