Belfast Telegraph

Teenager dancing back to health

A Mayo teenager with a life-threatening heart condition has said Irish dancing is helping her back to health.

Elisha Coleman, 15, started rehearsals this week to perform in a dance production created by stars from Riverdance.

The schoolgirl, who has been dancing since she was four and once qualified at the World Championships, had her first heart attack five years ago.

But she has since undergone major surgery three times - the most recent and successful last August - and is now gearing up to perform with dancers from a dozen other countries in Take The Floor later this month.

"I've been well on the road to recovery since my last operation, thank God," said Elisha. "I'm now on no medication for the first time in years and I feel great. Everyone keeps telling me I'm like a new woman."

Elisha was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia - an illness that causes rapid heart beat. She also suffers from vasovagel syncope, which means her blood pressure can drop suddenly causing her to pass out. But she said the thought of getting back to the dance floor helped her get the illness under control.

"I spent a good few years in hospital, from when I was 10 to 13," she said. "Being told I couldn't do what I love was by far the worst thing. But I just fought my case with the doctors. I think getting back to dancing and knowing I had that to look forward to helped me get better."

The teenager, who is studying for her Junior Cert, said while her latest operation gave no guarantees her condition would not worsen, doctors are confident she is now well enough to dance again.

"I'm just so happy to get my life back to normal," said Elisha. "It's been a rollercoaster, but I feel like now I'm finally getting it back on track. Doing this professionally would be a dream come true for me. I want to keep dancing for the rest of my life."

Take The Floor will be staged at the Helix in Dublin on August 15.

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