Cherrie's heart transplant story

Cherrie Temple, 68

Cherrie Temple, 68, and husband Dave were on their way to Somerset to pick up the keys to their new home when Cherrie had a cardiac arrest. The couple were relocating from Penarth, Wales.

During the months prior to the move, Cherrie had become increasingly breathless, particularly during exercise, but despite her health concerns didn’t want to miss out on the trip.

On 16 June 2009, she set out in the couple’s Volvo, with Dave and son Karsten following in a van. “I was just coming up to a set of traffic lights. I saw them turn red; that’s the last thing I remember,” she says. Cherrie was rushed to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, where she was diagnosed with severe dilated cardiomyopathy.

“My cardiomyopathy had been undiagnosed for some time and my heart was in a poor state,” says Cherrie. “My husband and two sons had been warned to expect the worst. They were also told that I would most likely need a heart transplant, if I survived.

“I was being kept alive via a pacemaker, renal dialysis and an aortic pump. My husband tells me that the only thing I was able to do by myself was breathing.”

I feel I’ve been given a second chance and I want to enjoy it

She was also fitted with an ICD to help prevent any further dangerous heart rhythms, which could lead to another cardiac arrest. However, her condition continued to deteriorate and in November doctors told Cherrie she had severe heart failure.

On 28 December 2009, she had a heart transplant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

“I am very thankful to those people who assisted me, especially the donor who did not live long enough to celebrate the New Year in 2010,” she says.

Cherrie also suffered a lung infection and spent two months in hospital before she was discharged. She will always have to take a cocktail of drugs to suppress her immune system.

While recovering, she made the decision to retire from her job as a pharmacist and has never looked back. These days, she indulges her passion for photography within the Minehead branch of the U3A (University of the Third Age).

In 2013, Cherrie visited Australia and Japan. This year, she and husband Dave are travelling to Australia to visit their son Tristan. “I feel I’ve been given a second chance and I want to enjoy it,” she says.

“Tristan has challenged me to walk across the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with him.”

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