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Emily fights back after transplant

PUBLISHED: 21:30 12 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:51 03 March 2010

JUST two years ago, little Emily Gentry's life hung in the balance when she developed a fatal heart condition.

But following a heart transplant the Chantry Infants schoolgirl looks a picture of health and is now gearing herself up to take part in the British Transplant Games at Keele.

JUST two years ago, little Emily Gentry's life hung in the balance when she developed a fatal heart condition.

But following a heart transplant the Chantry Infants schoolgirl looks a picture of health and is now gearing herself up to take part in the British Transplant Games at Keele.

She will be taking part in a ball throwing competition, an obstacle race and a 50 metre run at the games that will take place in the summer. There are also plans for her to do four miles of the Orwell Walk in June.

Both adults and children can take part in the games, which are organised on behalf of the Transplant Sports Association of Great Britain.

Over the last 20 years the games have grown to a three or four day event with more than 500 competitors and around 1,000 supporters.

For her mother Marie and her father Mark, it is something they thought they may never see, after Emily was struck down by dilated cardiomyopathy when she was six years old.

Eight-year-old Emily from Mallard Road, Ipswich, was the Evening Star Kid in a Million in 2001 where her brave plight was revealed.

She had suffered a virus, which had led to the heart condition, and within weeks her parents were told that she had to have a heart transplant.

Mrs Gentry said: "Emily was very lucky because she only had to wait for three and a half weeks before a donor was found – some people are waiting for months or even years."

But it was not plain sailing from there as Emily's body rejected the heart four times and later doctors told her parents that they were not convinced that she would pull through.

However, she battled and won the day, and now she can go to dance classes, brownies and swimming and loves to ride her bike.

Mrs Gentry said: "She can do so much more now – it is wonderful to see her.

"It is indescribable and there probably will be a few tears when she goes running round the track."

Emily has already raised around £100 of sponsorship with the help of her dad who is a driver for Ipswich Buses.

All the money Emily raises will be going to the charity Hearts for Kids.

Mrs Gentry said: "It is very important to raise money and awareness for organ donation and organ transplant.

"There are so few people who carry donor cards but we want to encourage them to, so more children like Emily can have the gift of life."

To sponsor Emily call Mr or Mrs Gentry on 01473 603635.

PANEL:

Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) is the commonest cause of heart transplantation in the young.

It causes the heart to be enlarged and as a result the organ becomes weak, thin or floppy and unable to pump blood efficiently round the body.

Since January 2001, 123 people have undergone heart transplantation as a result of DCM.

More than 80 per cent of all child heart transplants and 55 per cent of all adult heart transplants are due to DCM.

There is a desperate shortage of suitable organs available for transplantation and lives are needlessly lost each year.

WEBLINK: www.cardiomyopathy.org


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