Belfast Telegraph

Daniel’s best birthday ever as he celebrates with mum just days after her heart transplant

By Lisa Smyth

A woman given a second chance at life after getting a new heart has been reunited with her son and daughter as she recovers from the gruelling surgery.

Cathy McCracken, from Lisburn, remains in intensive care in the Freeman Hospital in New- castle-upon-Tyne but was allowed to see 18-year-old Sarah-Louise and Daniel, who was celebrating his ninth birthday just days after her life-saving operation.

Mrs McCracken is recovering well, although she has developed a problem with her kidneys.

Her husband Les said: “It is not something we need to be overly concerned about given everything she has been through. The doctors say her heart is doing well.

“She is living proof of the importance of the Organ Donor Register.

“She has been given a new chance at life. Until now I have been living with the knowledge that I could lose my wife and my children could lose their mother at any moment, but now we can start looking to the future.”

Mr McCracken said he has been stunned at the speed of his wife’s recovery so far: “It’s absolutely amazing. I know she has a long road to recovery but she looks so well.

“Intensive care isn’t the nicest place to be but we decided it was important to let the kids in to see her, and it meant so much to Cathy to see them as well. We had booked to come across to see Cathy on Daniel’s birthday before they got the new heart for her, and we decided to go ahead and come across anyway.”

Mrs McCracken received her new heart just days before her 41st birthday — the same day she celebrated her wedding anniversary. It is also the same time she lost her mother to the same condition that led to her needing a new heart.

She was forced to put her life on hold when doctors told her she needed a heart transplant. Her case was so urgent, her condition so fragile, she would not be able to leave the hospital until a new heart was found.

Her life was thrown into chaos after being diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle causing it to become so weak and enlarged that it cannot pump blood effectively.

Mrs McCracken recorded her anxious wait for a new heart in a diary published in the Belfast Telegraph.


The Belfast Telegraph has joined forces with Transplant Sport UK (TSUK) to call on people across Northern Ireland to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Text SAVE to 84118, telephone 0300 1232 323 or log on to

There are currently 287 people in Northern Ireland waiting for a transplant — eight of whom are children. On average, adults wait 184 days for a heart.

To find out more visit

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph