WITH Valentine’s Day approaching, love is in the air.
And Teresa Robertson is hopeful the amour in the atmosphere will urge someone to give her their heart – literally.
The mum-of-two, who has severe heart failure, has been on the transplant waiting list for almost three years. And she believes the lack of registered organ donors means she could be waiting a long time to come.
Teresa, from Fishcross, Clackmannanshire, was just 39 when she suffered a heart attack, completely out of the blue.
The former care assistant said: “I was at work and just collapsed. There were no warning signs, no symptoms. When I woke up two weeks later in hospital and was told I’d had a cardiac arrest, I just couldn’t believe it.”
Thankfully, Teresa’s workmates moved fast and began trying to resuscitate her. They kept her heart going until paramedics arrived.
At hospital, it was touch and go but medics saved Teresa’s life by fitting her with a Left Ventricular Assist Device, basically a mechanical heart. The device pumps blood from the heart around the rest of the body.
“I was in and out of consciousness so it was up to my daughter Angela to make the decisions,” Teresa said.
“She and the surgeons saved my life as without the LVAD, my heart wouldn’t have lasted very long.”
The 44-year-old added: “It worked for around a year, but then I got an infection and it had to be taken out.”
Amazingly, Teresa’s heart had healed itself, so she was able to cope without the device.
For a while, she felt better and back to her old self again. But a series of setbacks meant she had to have a defibrillator fitted to shock her heart when it stops – and be added to the transplant list in 2014.
Teresa thought life was about to change the following year, when a new heart was found for her. But the surgeon called off the transplant at the last minute after deciding the organ was deteriorating too quickly.
Every day since then has been a waiting game for Teresa and loving daughters Angela, 26, and Claire, 20.
“Every time the phone rings, we jump wondering if this will be the call,” she said.
“Every day I wake up wondering if this will be the day. When I realise it’s not, it breaks my heart because my health is deteriorating.”
In a traumatic twist, Teresa has since learned that her heart problems stem from a genetic condition, which affects both of her daughters.
“My dad suffered a massive heart attack 32 years ago, but we’ve only just made the connection,” she said.
“The good thing is that Angela and Claire will be closely monitored.”
Teresa has antibodies in her blood, which poses another difficulty in finding a suitable donor heart.
But she lives in hope. She added: “It may happen tomorrow, it may be another few years, but I’m hopeful there’s a heart out there for me.
“People talk about it or think about it, but never actually do it, but just one simple move could save a life.”
For more information about becoming a donor, visit organdonationscotland.org