WHEN Natalie Kerr carried the cake into daughter Isabelle’s fifth birthday party this month, everyone in the room had tears in their eyes.
Because just 12 months ago the young mum-of-two was slowly dying.
Miss Kerr had been seriously ill since before Isabelle was born and her condition was deteriorating, growing weaker and unable to do the normal, everyday things that any mum would do with their young children.
She suffered from lung disease pulmonary hypertension.
The only cure was a lung transplant and the 31-yearold was put on the NHS Organ Donation Register although she had little hope. But on February 17 last year, the former Royal Bolton Hospital nurse got a late night telephone telling her there was a possible match for a double-lung transplant. The call proved to be the starting point of a journey which was to transform Miss Kerr’s life.
All the arrangements were made and the transplant operation was carried out at Wythenshawe Hospital.
It saved Miss Kerr’s life, and now, one-year-on, she is a totally different woman, able to lead a normal life and to do the things with her children— Isabelle and son Brandon, aged 10— that she had always longed to. And tomorrow she will celebrate the first anniversary of the transplant by enjoying a meal with 60 friends and family.
But although it will be a very happy day, Miss Kerr will always have in mind the woman who died and who donated her lungs.
She said: “It’s a year since I got my new lungs so we wanted to celebrate but it’s also a year since the lady donor died and so it didn’t seem right to party. It seemed more respectful to have a meal and to mark the occasion nicely.”
Miss Kerr says she will always be grateful to the donor and her family. She is urging others to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and took part in an ITV campaign to promote organ donation. “Last year I was so poorly I was dying,” said Miss Kerr. “Now I can breathe and walk about and I’m not in bed all the time and I’m not hooked up to my oxygen. I am just a normal person. Because of the donor family, they have got their mum back,” she said. Before the transplant, Miss Kerr was unable to undertake the “everyday”
things that most mums take for granted, such as running up the stairs after the children and helping out at their school. When she was ill, she used to drive Brandon to Rivington Pike and sit in the car watching as her son ran to the top of the hill. But last week, she walked up Rivington Pike with him for the first time.
“I’m proud of myself because I made it up that massive hill. Now I can get involved in normal things like birthday parties and this year Isabelle had a party here. When I walked in with the birthday cake people had tears in their eyes. I didn’t even think about it, I was so busy with the food and the cake, but it was the first birthday I’d had with her that I wasn’t ill.”