Transplant patient Gill Connal is urging people to use World Heart Day later this month to re-examine their lifestyles.

For she knows more than most not to take the heart for granted.

Mrs Connal suffered a heart attack in 2007 at the age of 58 — just three days after her wedding to Eddy.

Her main artery was blocked and by-pass surgery was not an option. So she was put her on the transplant waiting list.

For the next seven weeks her life hung in the balance, until a new heart was found for her.

Now, 20 months on from her transplant, Mrs Connal, aged 60, from Worsley, is continuing her recovery and has made major lifestyle changes.

She is now back in the gym at Total Fitness in Walkden, enjoying pilates and toning classes, and is determined to get back into sales.

“I suppose I was an accident waiting to happen,” she said. “I did everything at top speed, I was on the road in a stressful sales job, I worked hard and I played hard.”

Mrs Connal was also smoking about 15 cigarettes a day, taking medication for high blood pressure and had taken her foot off the pedal when it came to exercising.

“I wasn’t overweight,” she said. “But that was partly because of the smoking, which kept the pounds off. And I would say that my diet has always been fairly healthy with plenty of fruit and veg.

“Even now I’m not completely sure what part all this played in my heart attack.”

On March 22, exactly seven weeks after her attack, Mrs Connal was given her new heart, and by May 5 she was back home again.

Mrs Connal said: “The only reason I’m here to tell this story is because of the dedication of the staff at the hospitals.

“I’m tough, and this whole experience has been very tough, but I know I’ll get back to where I want to be given a bit more time.”

She is now a big supporter of the organ donor scheme. “If it was not for a donor heart I would not be here. I have since found out there are more receipients than donors available. It is a hugely important scheme which I had never really thought about before.”

To find out more about World Health Day on September 27 log on to world-heart-federation.

org. To find out more about organ donation, visit organdonation. schaudhari@the

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