A TRANSPLANT patient who went on to win a host of gold medals before she died was described as one of life’s achievers by her loved ones last night.
Anna Burnett, who was born with a rare genetic condition, Crigler-Najjar syndrome, which affected her liver and resulted in jaundice, has died aged 32 of a post-transplant disorder.
Due to Anna’s condition for the first nine years of her life she had to spend 16 hours out of 24 under special lights.
But at the age of 10 her life changed when she had a liver transplant – freedom from the lights allowed her to pursue athletics where she became a world champion in the 2003 World Transplant Games. In the 2005 World Transplant Games in Canada she also won a silver and a bronze medal and took two gold medals in the European Transplant Games in Germany where she set the world record for the 400m.
Anna’s brother Matthew, 35, said despite being partners in crime as kids he hopes their sibling rivalry contributed to her fighting spirit. “As youngsters Anna and I, like most siblings, were quite competitive and I like to think this nurtured Anna’s competitive spirit which was clearly an important part of her fencing and athletic abilities.”
Anna was also a stalwart British Transplant Games competitor from the 1997 games in Liverpool to the 2008 games in Sheffield, winning more than 60 medals in total.
She also represented Scotland at the Commonwealth Fencing Open Championships in Australia in 2010. Her other activities included swimming, motorcycle trials, classic car restoration and the renovation of a near-derelict flat in Edinburgh, tackling much of the practical work herself.
Her dad John said: “She was a warm, loving person, full of energy and drive, who never wasted a moment. She was one of life’s achievers.”
And mum Alexis has paid tribute to her daughter’s character and talent. She said: “Our daughter was a truly remarkable young woman, who touched many people. We were aware of her many talents from a young age, her creativity shone through even as a toddler, making things from cardboard, paper, glue etc under her phototherapy lights.
“She went on to make bespoke clothes including wedding dresses once she finished her fashion design degree at Edinburgh College of Art.
“She had an ability to connect with people and although she was only an art and design teacher for a short time she was going to be a fine teacher and it is with such sadness that this will not be realised.”
Anna’s adventurous spirit shone through and when she found love with boyfriend Scott Campbell he was bowled over by her positivity. He said: “When I met Anna, all those cliché-ridden love songs suddenly made sense. I fell head over heels in love with the most amazing person I’ve met. Every day was special and there was always an adventure in the offing. Anna was life itself to me and living with her made everything seem possible. She was the prettiest star and I loved her more than I knew I could.”