Tasha: “I’m Tasha and I’m 18 years old. My condition that I had was called restrictive cardiomyopathy. The left muscle of my heart was very weak and didn’t pump the blood properly.
“I started to develop a secondary condition called pulmonary hypertension. It’s high lung pressure and it can affect your breathing and how well you exercise.”
My condition and transplant
Dr Benden, Tasha’s Consultant at GOSH: “Tasha’s heart was sick and her lungs were sick and she had a very poor quality of life. She wasn’t able to run around, to walk, to see her friends, to go to school.
“The only way forward at the time was to perform a transplant replacing her heart and her lung at the same time.”
Debbie, Tasha’s mother: “They did say that she’d more or less reached her limits. If she hadn’t got the transplant, she wouldn’t have lasted much longer. She had sort of more or less come to the end.”
Tasha: “I don’t remember anything for the first three weeks or so of the actual transplant because of all the drugs that I was on, but I do remember standing up for the first time and I did collapse to the floor. I remember all my friends and family coming in to visit me and that made me quite happy.”
My annual review
Tasha: “I’m here today because I’m having an annual review. You have it once a year after any kind of transplant and you have all kinds of tests like x-rays, echocardiograms and ECGs.
“In the step test they’re making me step onto this platform to see how long it takes for me to get tired.
“I’ve done the breathing test to show how my lung pressures are doing.
“I’ve got a bronchoscopy and a cardiac catheter at about two o’clock today. I’ll have a general anaesthetic for that and that will take me quite a while to get over the anaesthetic and I’ll sleep for most of the day.”
“That’s me there, lying on the table. First they’ll put in a camera to look at my lungs to see how healthy they are.”
Dr Benden: “I’ve got a bronchoscope here, which is a flexible instrument. You can see that the tip of the bronchoscope is very flexible, you can move it around just with a fingertip. I will put this bronchoscope now through the breathing tube and now we have a nice view of the lower airway. What we can see here is – so where the surgeons at the time of transplant have connected the donor and recipient airway together. And it all looks very nice and clean, exactly as we want it.”
Tasha: “Mostly testing for rejection and to make sure my organs are working properly. So they have to check it within the first two years which is the most likely period to get rejection. They also need to test how the organs are because no-one knows how long any organ will last.”
“They shall inject some dye into my heart to show the arteries. They’re doing this to make sure they’re working properly and are not clogged up.”
Surgeon: “Can’t see any obstruction or narrowing. That’s what we were checking for to make sure that the arteries in the new heart, the transplanted heart, are healthy and they all look ok.”
Tasha: “The results of all my tests were very good, they showed that my heart and lungs were completely normal. That makes me feel really happy and everyone’s quite relieved that I’m doing so well.”
Taking my medication
Dr Benden: “What is very important from Tasha’s point of view is that she co-operates with us. So we are a team – we’re a team of medical and nursing staff on one side and it’s the patient on the other side.
“The most important thing for teenagers is that they sometimes forget their medication. Because they’re so well, they are just enjoying their life they’re going back to school and meeting friends and suddenly they forget that the only reason that they’re so well is the fact that they’re taking this very strong medication.”
Tasha: “Every day I take loads of drugs. It takes me about half an hour to set them all up for the day. I have to take these drugs so that my body doesn’t reject my new organs."
Tasha: “I sometimes wonder why it had to be me to have this condition. But there’s nothing I can do about it so I just have to live with it.
“Missing out on everything in the past just makes me want to make up for it in the future.”
Debbie: “We have been in contact with the donor family and to be able to tell them that Natasha is having a normal life is something that they’d obviously want to hear – and want to know that what they did was such a wonderful thing to do to give life to somebody else. That’s the greatest gift you can give anybody. We still have a daughter and that’s because of them.”