to Michelle's story from the Diamond Event (MP3)
In just 37 life changing days, brave Michelle OHalloran not
only gave birth to her longed for first child, but also underwent
a heart transplant.
Four years on Michelle shares her incredible story
In June 2004, life for Michelle and husband Paul couldnt
have been sweeter. Michelle was eight months pregnant with their
first baby and shed sailed through the pregnancy.
It was a great pregnancy. I felt wonderful - I hadnt
even had morning sickness. I was actually a wee bit disappointed
not to have had any of the usual pregnancy conditions I was
just longing for the cravings!
Wed decided to go away for a last weekend on our own
before the baby arrived and it was while we were away that our good
fortune began to change.
I started to feel more and more tired and suddenly my legs
and ankles just ballooned. They were so swollen I could hardly walk.
On top of that I had become incredibly breathless. In the back of
my mind I was thinking that all these things were associated with
pregnancy, but decided to go to the doctor because it was all so
sudden and severe.
Initially they thought the breathlessness was asthma, but
I then began to develop terrible chest pains too. I gradually got
worse and on our first wedding anniversary, Paul took me to Glasgow
Royal Infirmary. Far from it being the anniversary wed planned,
it turned out to be a day that would change our lives forever.
By this point I knew deep down that there was something seriously
wrong and I was terrified that our baby was in trouble.
The doctors did an x-ray and within minutes of the results
coming back I was rushed to the cardiology ward.
The doctors told me that I had developed Peripartum Cardiomyopathy
an enlarged heart. The condition - which affects around one
in 5000 pregnant women - had been brought on by the pregnancy.
With Michelle and Paul reeling with this news, and with her condition
worsening rapidly, doctors at the hospital explained that the baby
would need to be born before they could give her the appropriate
Baby Cole OHalloran was born by caesarean section in the
hospitals cardiology ward on June 10, 2004.
When Michelle eventually came to after the operation she met her
son for the first time.
Paul laid our beautiful boy down beside me and I couldnt
hold back the tears.
But our joy didnt last long. The medication for my
condition wasnt working and my heart was apparently so enlarged
it was close to bursting.
I was told that I would need a heart transplant. The news
was almost incomprehensible.
On top of the impending transplant, I was also really worried
that Cole wasnt bonding with me. I was so ill I couldnt
even hold him. My sister Mari was fantastic she took care of Cole
and brought him in to see me everyday. Staying alive for him and
Paul was all I could think about.
My condition became worse and worse in the weeks that followed
as we waited for a suitable donor. In that time there were three
potential donors, but in the end none were suitable. I began to
worry that I wouldnt last long enough for a heart to become
available. But 37 days after Cole was born a match was found.
Im alive. That was the first thing I thought as I came
round after the transplant and its something I still think
about every day. The doctors and staff at the unit were absolutely
phenomenal and if it wasnt for them I really doubt Id
be here today.
After the operation the road to recovery was a long one,
but little by little I got there. Once I got home Mari gave up her
job to look after Cole and me while Paul was at work. And shes
still a huge support today. I owe her so much, no one could ever
ask for such an incredible sister.
During my pregnancy I had fantasised about pushing my child
in his or her pram. It took me longer than most mums, but when Cole
was four months old I eventually got my dream I took my son
for a walk in his pram.
Four years later, Cole is a fabulous wee person in his own
right. Even though Ill always be on medication, Im just
so grateful to be here to watch him grow. There are so many people
to whom I will always be indebted: the staff at the Glasgow Royal
Infirmary (who I still visit every Christmas) and of course my incredible
family, but above all to the woman whose heart saved my life. I
know very little about her. All I know is that she was a woman in
her forties who died tragically in car accident. The first thing
I did when I left hospital was to write to her family to thank them
for saving my life.
Before my transplant I had never really considered the issue
of organ donation and how important it is. Now I devote a great
deal of my time to raising the profile of donation and the crucial
message that we should all discuss with our loved ones what our
choices and preferences would be, should they, God forbid, ever
need to make the decision.
Organ donation saved my life and I would urge everyone to
discuss the issue with their family or better still join the organ
donation register and prevent your family having to make the decision
So, Happy 60th Birthday NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde. With
lots of love from Michelle, Paul and Cole. XXX
the UK Orgon Donor website
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