Belfast Telegraph

Heart transplant teen Kirsty Clarke laid to rest in poignant service

By David Young

Tragic heart transplant teenager Kirsty Clarke was "a wonderful young woman who overcame so many difficulties", mourners were told yesterday.

The funeral for the 18-year-old was held in the same country church where she was baptised as a baby.

The small Church of Ireland parish church at Aghavea, near Brookeborough, was filled to capacity as more than 500 of Kirsty's family and friends paid their last respects.

The teenager died suddenly on Monday morning.

She underwent the transplant procedure in March 2010 after a virus diminished her heart's function by almost 75%.

The former Lisnakea High School pupil complained of feeling unwell at around 7.30am on Monday.

After going back to bed, her health quickly deteriorated and she died within hours.

Church of Ireland minister Rev Gary McMurray told the Belfast Telegraph last night: "Kirsty was a wonderful young woman who overcame so many difficulties.

"Although her life was short, she lived life to the full and made an impact on so many people, as we saw at today's funeral."

In his address, Rev McMurray paid tribute to Kirsty and offered words of comfort to her family and friends.

"The events of Monday morning came so suddenly, so unexpectedly, that we are all in shock at the sudden loss of a beloved daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend," he said. "The sheer number of people calling, and indeed the size of the funeral today, show us the impact that Kirsty had on so many people.

"We watched her flourish and blossom into a beautiful young lady. We can only imagine what more she could have achieved, but it was not to be.

"Again we're confronted with the fragility of life and the pain of death. But God is with us, as he is with Kirsty."

Rev McMurray also revealed that Kirsty had made plans to become a nurse.

"It's little wonder that Kirsty wanted to work in nursing, and in particular as a cardiac nurse, since she wanted to help and serve other people in the same situation as herself," the clergyman told the congregation.

Among the mourners were Irwyn McKibbin, from Heartbeat NI, and victims' campaigners Kenny Donaldson, from the South East Fermanagh Foundation.

Kirsty, who would have turned 19 on February 18, is survived by her parents, Sharon and Alan, sister Zara, grandmother Lily Graham as well as the wider family circle.

After the moving funeral service, her body was interred in the small graveyard adjoining the church.

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