Nicola’s story

Nicola Lesley

A Douglas woman whose life was saved by a heart transplant has urged others to consider donating organs. Nicola Leslie, 47, was diagnosed with arterial fibrillation in 2007, which is an abnormal heart rhythm characterised by rapid and irregular beating.

After numerous operations over a number of years she was told her heart was failing, and by 2014 she needed a heart transplant. In March this year she underwent the operation at Wythenshawe Hospital. in Manchester.

Nicola, who lives in Douglas but is originally from Yorkshire, said: ‘Without my donor I would not be here today and there is nothing I can say or do to thank the donor family for the gift they have given me.

‘The only thing I can do is respect and care for this heart as much as I can’.

I do not believe in guilting people into doing things that they are not comfortable with, however I would encourage people to think about what if it was them or a family member who needed an organ.

“My problems came out of nowhere, there are no heart issues within my family. I was also gene-tested which came back negative. It is possible I caught a virus which attacked my heart muscle”.

‘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.’

Bank worker Nicola has received a male heart and has written to the wife of the man whose heart saved her.

She said: ‘All you find out is the age, sex and where the person was from but it’s up to you if you want to contact them.

‘I don’t think that it really hits home until you are on the list that for you to receive the organ you need, especially a heart, someone is going to pass away. This makes it a real emotional rollercoaster as you do not and would not wish losing a loved one on anyone, but you need a heart to survive.’

The transplant took place on March 7 and 34 hours later Nicola was sitting up in bed in intensive care.

‘The following day I was even out of bed doing a very small walk to the end of the ward with the aid of physios,’ said Nicola. ‘I managed to pick up flu, so I was isolated for a week. But I was discharged exactly one month after the operation’.

I would not have got through all of this without my family and closest friends.

Nicola continued: ‘It is a long road to recovery, monthly biopsies in Manchester and a super strict drugs regime. They say two 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 I can. I can meet friends for lunch.  I am planning to fly to Kent to see my niece for her birthday. I feel that there is nothing I cannot do.

“There are just a few sensible rules around germs and bacteria diet”

Nicola recently featured in a DVD made at Noble’s Hospital about organ donation, in which she tells how her transplant saved her life.