A SOLIHULL mother and her son, who suffer from a serious hereditary heart condition and had their lives saved by vital organ donations, hope to raise money for ‘revolutionary’ transplant equipment.
Mother Anne and son Paul Bill live with cardiomyopathy, a rare and dangerous inherited illness.
They both conquered the condition after receiving miraculously swift heart transplants.
There was more relief for the family as Paul’s baby son, Joshua, benefitted from pioneering ‘gene test’ technology that prevented him developing the same condition.
They are speaking out for the ‘Heart In A Box’ appeal to raise funds for potentially life-saving equipment to assist with transplants at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham (QEHB).
The ‘heart in a box’ device will allow surgeons to pump blood through the heart, keeping it beating outside of the body while preventing it from deteriorating.
The QEHB say the technology will allow twice as many people to receive safe and timely heart transplants, supporting families such as the Bills to live long and fulfilling lives.
The family’s condition means the left chamber of the heart becomes stretched and muscles weaken reducing the heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently.
Anne, 62, from Dorridge lived with undiagnosed cardiomyopathy for over 30 years, during which time she had two children and pursued a career as a primary school teacher.
She was diagnosed in her thirties but Anne didn’t fall ill until almost thirty years after.
Paul, Anne’s eldest son, also needed a heart transplant after he fell ill with the condition in 2004 when he was 19.
In miracle circumstances, both received pivotal heart transplants within days of falling ill.
Paul said: “Not everybody is able to receive a heart as quickly as I did, my mum and I are so grateful to the families whose loved ones were able to help us continue to live life to the full.
“Just four days after my operation I was on my bicycle, and I was able to play tennis again, something that is really important to me.”
The family also sadly lost Anne’s other son, Nick, to the same heart condition.
In 2016, Paul’s wife, Kim, underwent pre-implantation Genetic Diagnosis with a specialist team at Birmingham Women’s Hospital.
This enabled doctors to isolate the gene that causes dilated cardiomyopathy and only use healthy embryos and freeze the other healthy ones for future use.
Paul explained: “Kim and I didn’t want our children to go through what my family have gone through, and whilst we are extremely grateful that my mum and I are still here, but for others, like my brother, cardiomyopathy can be deadly.
“In October 2016 our son, Joshua was born; he brings us so much joy.”