By Charlotte Nisbet
A student has undergone a heart transplant after doctors dismissed her symptoms as exam stress.
Charlotte Carney, 22, was suffering with severe fatigue and needed constant naps when doctors suggested her symptoms were linked to stress.
But as her health continued to decline – something that left her sleeping for 20 hours per day – she began struggling to walk and Charlotte underwent further tests.
After being diagnosed with a chronic heart condition she was placed on the organ transplant list in February this year .
And just three weeks later Charlotte received the lifesaving call she desperately needed.
She spent six days in a coma but after four weeks in hospital she was finally released.
Charlotte is now thriving since returning home and is now able to complete her degree.
She is now sharing her story to help others realise the importance of being an organ donor.
Charlotte, from Northwich, Cheshire, added: “I was dismissed by doctors due to my age in 2013 and I was told my symptoms were due to exam stress.
“But as the years passed my health continued to decline, I struggled to stay awake for longer than a few hours.
“I thought I was just really lazy and loved sleep but after tests on my heart I was finally diagnosed.
“I had an ECG test to check my heart’s rhythm through the charity CRY – Cardiac Risk in the Young and was referred to a cardiologist.
“It was after these tests that I was told I had Restrictive Cardiomyopathy which meant my heart did not fill of blood properly.
“No one had any idea that I had a heart condition but we knew it was serious as I was getting worse.
“Medication didn’t help and just three months after my diagnosis I was placed on the waiting list for a new heart.
“I knew my time was running out and if I didn’t have a new organ quickly I was risking being too unwell for the transplant.
“I couldn’t believe it when three weeks later I got the call.
“The nurse started asking about the weather at first and then she said, ‘I think you know why I’m calling.’
“It was surreal and although I was nervous I knew I had no other choice if I wanted to survive.
“I was so thankful when I woke up but I thought about the donors family straight away.”
Charlotte spent just four weeks in hospital before she was allowed home and noticed a difference in her appearance after the transplant straight away.
She added: “For the first time in my life I had warm feet, they had always been cold before.
“My family and friends said I looked really pink too as I’d always been so pale before the surgery.
“I don’t need several naps every day now and finally have my independence back.
“I have just started back for my final year at university to study forensic psychology and criminal justice.
“I can’t thank the family of the heart donor enough and I do hope to one day meet them if they want to.”
Charlotte was given just 20 per cent chance of surviving the next two years without having a transplant.
She said: “My quality of life was so poor earlier this year that I don’t think I would have lasted another two years.
“I would only be able to stay awake from 11am until 2pm and even walking a few steps would leave me breathless.
“I think it’s so important for the law the change around organ donation so it’s an ‘opt out’ system.
“People need to talk to their families about this subject too so everyone knows what they want.
“The amount of people on the waiting list is endless, I’m just very grateful I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to wait years for their call.”
Charlotte is now thanking the charity CRY for saving her life.
She added: “CRY offers subsidised ECG and Echocardiogram screening to all young people between the ages of 14 and 35.
“It was this test that saved my life and led to doctors taking my symptoms seriously.”