- From: Pendle, East Lancashire
- CHD: Hole in heart, Leaky heart valve
My mum and dad were told at the 20 week scan that one of her twins had a heart condition – and in a single pregnancy they would suggest a termination.
After further checks the diagnosis was changed but they still didn’t know if I would survive. Due to the expected complications, my brother and I were born in Leeds General Infirmary with heart specialists on hand.
I was missing a pulmonary valve and had a hole in my heart. I had to have regular check-ups as my left lung was severely compressed due to the size of my heart from it having to work overtime.
We were told that, as I grew, more space would become available in my chest, allowing me to breathe easier. My check-ups became six-monthly, and then annually, until I got to high school.
Following an MRI scan it was decided I needed surgery as my pulmonary artery had become baggy over time and was starting to impede my breathing.
Finding out I needed surgery aged 13, rather than at 18 was really scary. I even started to write a bucket list as I was worried I wouldn’t survive.
My surgeon explained they would “open me up like a book” and “a machine would do my heart’s job until all the repairs had been made”. I didn’t have time to do anything on my list as a few days later a cancellation came up and I was going into the LGI.
I hardly slept the night before and mum stayed with me. We paced the corridors and wards talking. Thankfully the surgery was a success and six and a half hours later I was in intensive care.
I don’t remember much but my twin brother was extremely upset to see me with all the tubes and machines attached.
I was so well looked after on the heart ward and I was determined to be well. A week after surgery I was allowed home.
My parents never wrapped me in cotton wool, always allowing me to have a go at anything figuring that if I couldn’t do it my body would tell me!
One of the things that I started to do was play music. I played a gig the weekend before my surgery, not knowing how the surgery would affect my voice, or me.
It took around two months to get back to singing and that was the first time my mum really cried. She listened to me sing and that’s when it really hit her what we had been through.
Life went on as normal with annual check-ups and I wasn’t on any medication. I will need further surgery as my valve will not last forever but in the meantime I am living life to the full. I continued singing, learnt to play piano and started writing music myself.
My first song “Ward 26” was about my experience of heart surgery in 2013. I also started to play guitar. I am now at college studying music and hope to attend York St John University to continue my studies.
My band have just released our first single on Spotify called “I ain’t gunna” as The Switch UK, check it out. We can be found on Facebook as The Switch UK and Odall.