Belfast Telegraph

Brave liver operation teenager to compete in Transplant Games

by Natalie Irvine

A brave Newtownards teenager who was “hours from death” after her liver failed last year is to take part in the British Transplant Games next week, in honour of her donor.

Cara Hearst, 19, is “raring to go” to what will be her first Games, taking place in Bath, England, between August 19-22.

Cara said: “Last March I was fortunate enough to meet my donor's mother. This very rarely happens, and it was due to special circumstances that we were able to meet.

“My donor saved my life and it was an amazing and emotional experience being able to thank his mother in person for their amazing generosity.”

Cara’s donor was 13-year-old Daryl Turley, who died after being knocked down by a motorbike in Scotland.

“I think one of the main reasons people take part in the Transplant Games is to remember all the donors and the ‘gift of life',” said Cara. “I am really excited about taking part. I will be taking part in the tennis, 100m, table tennis and archery. I’m so grateful I am well enough now to take part.”

Two years ago Cara had no idea she would ever need a transplant.

“I was really tired over Christmas 2008, but it got to the point in January when I couldn’t even get up. Then I turned yellow and was rushed to my local hospital,” she said. “I was told there that I had liver failure as a result of a genetic disorder that prevents the body from getting rid of extra copper — Wilson’s disease. It came as quite a shock.

“I was only in hospital for three days when I was sent to King’s Hospital in London to undergo a liver transplant operation. It all happened really quickly.”

Just three months after the operation, Cara was sitting her Biology A-level module.

“I did enough to get into university, but had to take a gap year as I was still not well enough to attend.

“I was originally going to study occupational therapy, but because of my experience in hospital I have decided to train as a nurse and will be starting my course at Queen’s University in September.”

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register log on at www.organdonation.nhs.uk or call 0300 123 23 23.

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