Red letter day for South Yorkshire fundraisers

Gemma Lawrence was born with congenital heart disease.
Gemma Lawrence was born with congenital heart disease.
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FUNDRAISERS in South Yorkshire are being urged to don their best red attire to back the British Heart Foundation’s Rock Up in Red Day.

Gemma Lawrence, of Swinton, who has dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, is backing the campaign.

British Heart Foundation Rock Up in Red logo

British Heart Foundation Rock Up in Red logo

She was aged 15 when a bad cold led to the discovery she had the heart condition.

Gemma’s heart was functioning so badly that doctors told her parents she might have just days to live.

She was placed on medication and put on the waiting list for a heart transplant but, with medication, her condition stabilised.

Doctors warned becoming pregnant could prove fatal, but at the age of 21 she discovered she was expecting.

Gemma had a Caesarean at 31 weeks – not knowing if her heart could cope with the procedure.

But she and partner Jamie were overjoyed when they became the proud parents of daughter Melody.

The 27-year-old said: “I’ve always had a positive outlook on life and thought to myself there must be a reason why I’m still alive.

“When I fell pregnant, I realised the real reason I’m still alive – Melody.

Gemma described the difficulties of living with the condition.

She said: “It affects me every day. I get more tired than people with healthy hearts and I have limitations, but, at the same time, I try to live as normal a life as I can.

“I am not on the transplant list any more. I have been stable on medication for 11 years, but may one day be back on the list when I deteriorate.”

To kick off National Heart Month on the first Friday of February, the BHF is asking people to organise a Rock Up In Red event and rally colleagues, friends and family to pay £2 and wear red.

* To order a free Rock Up In Red Fundraising Kit – download a pack at BHF Rock up in Red or call 0300 330 0645.