A BRAVE mother from Eaton Socon who was told at Christmas she had only six months to live is pleading for a new heart to save her life. Valerie McNeaney, aged 50, from Queens Gardens was put on Papworth Hospital s heart transplant waiting list last Chris
A BRAVE mother from Eaton Socon who was told at Christmas she had only six months to live is pleading for a new heart to save her life.
Valerie McNeaney, aged 50, from Queens Gardens was put on Papworth Hospital's heart transplant waiting list last Christmas after being diagnosed with a rare genetic heart condition.
Valerie, who has four children, Molly, eight, Rhiannon, 13, Jessie, 26, and Liam 28, told The Hunts Post: "It breaks my heart, the thought of leaving my children, but if I don't get a new heart I will die. It is a waiting game and it is a worrying time for us all."
Valerie was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy - an enlarged heart - in 2003 but was not referred to Papworth Hospital until October last year.
The illness killed her 53-year-old brother Christopher Tomlin, her mother Penelope Beachamp when she was just 46, and her sister Susan Cuthbert, aged 44.
She said: "I went to the doctor shortly after my brother died because I felt a bit tired and was wheezing. My doctor told me not to worry and that I was bound to be anxious because of the death of my brother.
"Months later I saw a specialist who told me I was at very serious risk of sudden death. I was shocked - I didn't even know I was ill, let alone seriously ill.
"All I could think about was my children."
Valerie was immediately fitted with a pacemaker defibrillator and put on the heart transplant waiting list. She now takes 15 tablets a day to stabilise her condition.
"Medication can only do so much, I need a new heart to keep me alive," she said.
"The hospital has given me a pager that they will use to contact me when a suitable heart arrives at the hospital so I just have to wait.
"They had a heart a couple of weeks ago but it wasn't suitable for me, which was a real disappointment.
"There is such a shortage of heart donors and I just can't help thinking that if my illness could have been caught earlier I would have had more time.
"I send all four of my children for regular check-ups for heart problems and at the moment they are all clear."
Valerie has come to terms with the fact that she may suddenly die and has made a DVD for her two youngest children to watch when she is gone. She has also knitted some clothes and bought some books to leave for the children in her memory.
She added: "I live each day as it comes and make the most of what I've got. We don't like to dwell on things as we don't want to spoil the time we have together. Peter, my husband, keeps telling me I'll be okay but I might not be. I have learned over the past few months that life is very precious and you never know what might be around the corner."
INFORMATION: According to the UK Transplant Organisation there are 6,884 people waiting for transplants. To find out more visit www.uktransplant.org.uk