A CHARITY volunteer from Breightmet now cherishes every moment — after her life was saved 14 years ago by a heart transplant.

Maria Mwaimu suffered heart failure at the age of 17 and had to abandon the business course she was studying at college.

Her brother-in-law gave her CPR and she was rushed to Wythenshawe Hospital for an emergency transplant.

Now aged 31, Miss Mwaimu is encouraging more and more people to Sign Up To Save Lives so tales of recovery such as hers become the norm rather than the exception.

The Bolton News is campaigning to get 5,000 more people signed up to the organ donor register ahead of The Transplant Games in the town next month.

Miss Mwaimu said: “I had a pacemaker fitted when I was younger, which I had worn since I was quite little. I also had a patch on my heart when I was younger, and what happened was that the hole opened up again.

“I just collapsed, obviously none of us knew what was wrong so I went to the Royal Bolton and was then sent to Wythenshawe.

“My brother-in-law Jimmy O’Kara saved my life with mouth-to-mouth CPR — I was at my sister’s house at the time and he helped me.”

Miss Mwaimu initially pursued a career as a childcare assistant after the operation, but gave that up through stress and now volunteers full-time for Bolton charity Scope.

She is set to take part in The Bolton News Donor Run on August 9, part of the Transplant Games.

Her recovery has also been helped by mum Edith, aged 60, sister Jeanna, aged 40, and brothers Jason and Robert.

But it was the family of a 17-year-old Scottish boy Miss Mwaimu has never met who played the vital role of signing the organ donor register, so her life could be saved.

Miss Mwaimu added: “I just want to say thank you to them.

“People can save so many lives by being donors, so please consider it. It makes a big difference.”

To Sign Up To Save Lives, go to the NHS organ donor register at organ donation.nhs.uk, call 0300 1232323 or text SAVE to 62323.