Nicola Lesley’s Story

Live life give life

Hi my name is Nicola I am 47 years old and on the 7th of March 2016 I had a heart transplant, in 2007 I was diagnosed with arterial fibrillation and after numerous operations over a number of years it was spotted that my heart was failing – Cardio Myopathy – which was controlled by drugs. In 2014 my condition had deteriorated sufficiently that I needed a transplant. I was referred to Wythenshawe in November 2014 for a full assessment to ensure that I would be fit enough to be operated on. I was given the all clear at the beginning of 2015 but was rather overweight and needed as certain BMI before I could be listed. As you can imagine this was not an easy task as I was unable to exercise as I could not breathe just moving from room to room was a terrible effort I had to have friends in to do my cleaning and shopping etc. I was also retaining a massive amount of water so was in and out of Nobles CCU like it was my second home. At the beginning of this year I was admitted into Nobles again as I needed help clearing excess water and once this was under control we realised I had hit the magic BMI, I was immediately airlifted to Manchester where after a lot of work (you need to be in a certain level if heath before you can be listed) for instance my Kidneys would play up and once that was sorted something else would play up. Eventually (Thursday 3rd March at 2:15pm) Steve my Consultant Cardiologist sat on the end of my bed and advised I had been added to the Urgent list and would not be released from hospital prior to surgery.

It is the strangest feeling finding out that you have made the transplant list because you are forever hopeful of a match but are aware that someone else is going to suffer a major loss for you to get that match.

At 5am on Monday 7th March one of the nurses woke me to advise I would be Nil by Mouth but no further information was available and so all of the pre-op checks were starting to be carried out, it is very unusual to receive your first match so I was not too worried and just went along with all of the protocols, then at lunch time I was told they had agreed in principle to receive the donor heart and it was mine, as I am sure you appreciate everything was a bit of a blur from then. The transplant took place that evening and 34 hours later I was sitting up in bed in intensive Care able to breathe by myself. The following day I was even out of bed (drips, lines drains and all still attached) doing a very small walk to the end of the ward with the aid of the physios. Once I was moved to the transplant ward I managed to pick up the flu, so was isolated for a week (not ideal with a compromised immune system) but slowly all the wires and drips and line and drains were removed one at a time (seemed to take forever but was only over 2 weeks) and with regular physio I was discharged exactly 1 month after the operation.

As I am sure you are aware it is a long road to recovery, monthly biopsies in Manchester and a super strict drugs regime, they say 2 years to recover from a heart transplant but my life now is amazing I am back to being me. If I want to go for a skeet down Strand Street because I am bored I can, if I want to meet friends for lunch I can. My niece is 21 later this year and I am planning on flying down to Kent too see her for her birthday. I haven’t been home for about 3 years as I have been too ill to travel. I feel that there is nothing I cannot do now that I could do before I fell ill. There are just a few sensible rules around germs & bacteria diet wise I just tell everyone that I eat like a pregnant lady same rules (not runny eggs, soft cheese, pate etc). I obviously need to build up my stamina again but that gets better every day, I have even started back a work.