Golden girl grabs medals

BRAVE heart op girl Emily Gentry showed what she was made of when she grabbed a gold medal in the British Transplant Games.The eight-year-old from Mallard Way Ipswich has battled her way back to health after being struck down by a potentially fatal heart condition two years ago.

By Jessica Nicholls

BRAVE heart op girl Emily Gentry showed what she was made of when she grabbed a gold medal in the British Transplant Games.

The eight-year-old from Mallard Way Ipswich has battled her way back to health after being struck down by a potentially fatal heart condition two years ago.

And now she has showed proud parents Marie and Mark that she really is a golden girl, after winning won a gold medal in the 50 metre run and also picking up a bronze medal in the ball throw.

The games were held over four days at Keele last week and organised on behalf of the Transplant Sports Association of Great Britain.

Mrs Gentry said: "It was very emotional watching her.

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"I was standing at the end of the track with a video camera watching her coming down and I just burst into tears when she got first place.

"Seeing her on the winners podium was great as well - she really enjoyed herself."

As well as throwing and running, Emily - who was an Evening Star Kid in A Million in 2001 - also made it through to the final obstacle course but did not manage to get a medal that time.

Being able to take part in the games is a huge achievement for Emily who has raised more than £500 for the Hearts for Kids charity through her involvement and there should be more to come.

Mrs Gentry said she wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who has sponsored Emily and raised money for the charity.

She said in particular Ipswich Buses, where Emily's father works, who are holding a 70's night to fundraise, and also Chantry Children's Dancing Class of which Emily is a member as they held a raffle to help raise money.

Two years ago the youngster was at death's door when she suffered a virus which led to the heart condition dilated cardiomyopathy.

Her parents were told she would have to have a heart transplant and the youngster was lucky to get one within three and a half weeks - some people are left waiting for years.

The heart was rejected several times and doctors later told her parents they feared she might not pull through.

But today she has proved them all wrong and happily goes to Brownies, dance classes, swimming and loves to ride her bike.

In June Emily also managed to complete five miles of the Orwell Walk to raise money for Hearts for Kids, and even though the games are now over, Mrs Gentry said they will still continue to take part in events to get even more money for the charity.

FASTfacts

Dilated Cardiomyopathy is the commonest cause of heart transplants 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 transplants as a result of 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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