Great Yarmouth mum marks heart transplant milestone

AFTER defying doctors’ predictions and living to see her daughter grow up, a Great Yarmouth woman is marking the milestone anniversary of her heart transplant with a big thank-you effort.

When Rachael Lear appeared on the front page of the Mercury in 1991 ahead of her operation at Papworth Hospital, she was near to death and nearly too weak to hold baby Chelsea, who was less than a year old.

However, despite being given five to eight years to live with her new heart, Rachael fought on against all the odds.

And now the 46-year-old is holding a series of fundraisers for those whose efforts mean she can live a happy, fulfilled life today.

She said: “I just thought it wouldn’t happen to me. I never thought I would die no matter how much they told me, especially as I had my daughter.”

Rachael, who lives in Anchor Court, suffered serious heart problems which were prompted by the birth of Chelsea in October 1990 and initially dismissed as post-natal depression. However, by the following July she was put on a list awaiting a donor.

The following November she was called at home to be told there was a heart waiting for her and she was rushed into Papworth for her vital operation.

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Since then, aided at one point by a daily dose of 45 pills to supplement her non-existent immune system, she has come back from the brink more than once to live every day to the fullest.

She has also witnessed her only child grow from a baby into a woman.

Rachael said: “Social services even wanted to take her away when I was ill but I wasn’t going to let that happen. I think it’s my attitude. I never thought I was a strong person but my illness has made me a better, more open-minded and stronger person.”

Now working as a customer asistant and 20 years old, Chelsea calls her mum’s achievement “amazing.”

“She keeps telling me she won’t be around for long but here she is, still telling me what to do! She’s developed a really strong character and just gets on with living her life.”

Rachael, who goes to the gym and has visited Dubai, Egypt and Malta in the last few years, added: “I’ve just tried to enjoy every day, and do what I can with my friends and relations.”

Now she is organising a charity event with friends and family for the hospital, which she still goes to for check-ups every six months.

And she hopes a ladies’ night at the Masonic Lodge in March will kick off an eight-month fundraising effort that will bring in �20,000 for those who saved her when she most needed it.

“It’s been 20 years and that feels like an achievement. I was just going to have a party but I thought I would do some fundraising and give something back. I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for them.”

The ladies night, the first of Rachael’s monthly fundraisers, is at the Great Yarmouth Masonic Lodge on March 11. There will be a range of stalls including ones selling hats and various food, as well as massages and beauty pampering on offer. Entry is �5. Those wanting to get involved with the efforts, or donate prizes for raffles, can contact Rachael on 01493 663225.