Sheree waiting for heart transplant to treat rare condition

Sheree Bell gets breathless after walking 20 yards
Sheree Bell gets breathless after walking 20 yards
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While most people her age are out having fun, Sheree Bell can barely walk 20 yards without pausing for breath.

The 21-year-old found out just a month ago that she needs a heart transplant to overcome problems caused by a rare condition called Noonan Syndrome.

But she is so keen to help others that while she waits for the crucial operation she is arranging a fundraising night for the British Heart Foundation.

Ms Bell was born with Noonan Syndrome, which can cause a variety of symptoms from distinctive facial features to congenital heart disease.

She said: “When I was born they thought I had Down’s Syndrone because my hands and feet were swollen and then they named it Turner Syndrome and they thought I had that until I was nine.”

It was then she succeeded in begging her mum to let her have her ears pinned back to stop the bullying she was being subjected to at school, and doctors realised her ears could be a symptom of Noonan Syndrome. Blood tests confirmed the diagnosis.

When she was about 12, they discovered she had an abnormal heart valve.

Ms Bell, who is from Carrick Knowe, said: “The heart valve wasn’t affecting me too much and then when I went to Tenerife in 2009 I took ill there.”

She was hospitalised overnight and when she got home, cardiologists discovered her heart was flooding her spleen and liver with blood, leaving both organs swollen.

They tried to ease the condition with drugs, but in April this year her heart started to race and wouldn’t stop.

She was given a treatment called cardioversion, where she was put to sleep and given an electric shock to force her heart back into a normal rhythm.

She said: “They said, ‘You’ll probably be able to go back to work in two weeks’, but I just wasn’t getting any better. So I went back to the cardiologist and he did a heart scan and he said, ‘The worst case scenario is a heart transplant’.”

The prognosis was confirmed last month: “It wasn’t the nicest thing to hear, but I know it’s going to make my life better. I’m only 21, I don’t want to be like this for the rest of my life.

“I’m not on the emergency list, which is good. They think I will be fine for another six to nine months. But they want to try and do it before I go downhill.”

Her condition has seen her unable to return to her job in a British Gas call centre for the past six months, but she doesn’t want to be idle, and has decided to boost the British Heart Foundation with the fundraising event she is organising at The Ritz, South Gyle, on November 25.

Someone from the organ donor register will be there to sign people up, and there will also be a disco, buffet and fundraising raffle. Tickets for the event, which runs from 7.30pm to 1am, are £5 on the door.

To sign the register visit www.uktransplant.org.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.