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Headline: I'm Getting Married And I Never Thought ....


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Tim Stewart Find out more about Tim Stewart
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  • Headline: I'm Getting Married And I Never Thought ....

    Copyright 2003 The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Ltd

    Daily Post (Liverpool)

    June 12, 2003, Thursday

    SECTION: FEATURES; Pg. 22,23

    LENGTH: 1702 words

    WANT ME;



    NICOLA Hague walks down the aisle tomorrow after twice defying the odds and
    fighting back from the brink of death.

    The 24-year- old bride -to-be survived a massive stroke and the ordeal of a
    heart transplant in her teens.

    And, inspired by the team who saved her life, she is now the country's first
    stroke and heart transplant patient to train as a cardiothoracic nurse.

    But on Friday her happiness will be complete when she marries 23-year-old
    Craig Jones at St Paul's Roman Catholic Church in Spring Grove, West Derby. "I
    believe that I was never meant to die," says Nicola. "Everyone has a path in
    life and looking after people is mine."

    They say that a person who does not think about life is like a mapless
    stranger in a foreign land. But since having a stroke at the tender age of 18
    and then, discovering she had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy,Nicola seems well
    adjusted to the ways of the world. An active youth,nothing could have prepared
    the Hagues for the shock of their daughter needing a new heart. Nicola enjoyed
    sports and even represented her school in cross country. In short, there were no
    warning signs that tragedy would strike.

    Today the brunette nurse remembers little of her illness. Yet her
    long-suffering parents, Mike and Denise, can recall every detail. "It began in
    October 1997," says her mum, a 46 year -old medical receptionist. "Nic had been
    working with her dad in Everton Glass Works,and when she camehome, theredidn't
    seem to be a problem. "Then, while upstairs playing a game on the computer I
    heard my youngest, Jonathan, scream. It was a horrifying noise. Startled,I ran
    into the kitchen and saw Nic, lying immobile on the floor." Nicola had been
    cooking pasta, she had tried to lift up a saucepan with her left hand and

    "I immediately called 999," continues Denise. "The ambulance guys ,Mike Neve
    and Geoff Foreshaw, were brilliant. They put Nic on a heart monitor and then
    rushed her off to Whiston Hospital.

    "They told us that Nic had suffered a stroke because there was something
    wrong with her heart. The ECG indicated that it was grossly enlarged and a blood
    clot had somehow travelled from the defective heart up to the brain,causing a

    "It was the worse night of our lives. The doctors told us that they didn't
    think she would pull through and we were devastated. But the only thing Nic was
    worried about was us and our need for sleep."

    With a swift flick of the hand, Nic aborts the tears from her sea-blueeyes.
    No one reacts until her dad's bottom lip starts to quiver with emotion.

    "He cries at a drop of ahat," laughs Denise. A fact substantiated by her
    brother Gary's anecdotes. A roar of laughter ensues and the cloud lifts from
    Nicola's face. "I'm sorry,our family is completely mad," apologises Denise, her
    soft voice barely audible above the clan's din. It was humour that helped keep
    them sane during the rough times.

    Nicola was paralysed all along the left -hand side of her body but regained
    sensation a week after the stroke," continues Denise. "But today, she remains
    blind on the left side of both eyes. In fact, we hadn't realised there was a
    problem until she knocked over a chair in the hospital ward."

    Within a month Nicola returned home and Denise's employer,Dr Bernard
    O'Brien, suggested that RichardCharles,a cardiologist from Broadgreen Hospital,
    check out both Nic and the boys for any signs of a genetic heart condition.

    "I had no idea how serious it all was until, while opening some mail at
    work, I saw Christopher and Jonathan's test results. They were fine but a
    separate letter saidNic was at high risk of sudden death.

    "That afternoon, I went home and sobbed. The news that she'd had a stroke
    was enough but knowing Nic had a faulty heart was even worse. "We decided not to
    tell her the badnews. It was hard,especially since I had to attend a Christmas
    party a few days later. "Before going, I remember telling her to take some
    tablets. But Nic said she'd rather die than take them. Oh, it was awful. I
    wanted to stay at home. However, I had to go, otherwise she would've been

    Nicola was seriously ill. Vomiting on a daily basis,her weight plummeted to
    five stones and her skin was ghostly white.

    "Shelooked dreadful - all skin and bone," explains Mike. "But she battled
    on, never complaining or even considering the possibility ofdying."

    Even when death's shadow loomed ominously over her, Nicola was comforted by
    the thought of God's intervention. In April 1998, the family went on a
    pilgrimage to Loudres. They weren't looking for miracles but they witnessed one.

    "St Bernadette'spool was freezing," explains Denise. "But when Nic went in,
    she said it was warm. Yet,I could barely breathe because the water was so cold.
    It was a sign that everything was going to bealright."

    A few months later, doctors broke the news to Mike and Denise that their
    only daughter needed a heart transplant. Nicola was devastated. "I knew I was
    ill but I never thought that I might die," she says.

    The family presumed that her condition could be controlled with medication.

    "The news hit us hard," says Denise. "A transplant was something that
    happened in television dramas and toothers."

    And, of course, there is a big difference between being told that you need a
    transplant and having one. "They have to find the right heart and the recipient
    has to be ready and in full health when the beeper finally goes off," adds

    Although Nicola was confident a heart would be found, her health continued
    to deteriorate. Painfully thin and suffering from breathlessness, Nic finally
    began to wonder whether she could survive. "Then, on February 7," she was given
    an offer of aheart," says Denise. "Words can't describe how thrilled we were.
    The ambulance arrived and it was Mike again. He was chuffed to bits that Nic was
    going to get the organ she so desperately needed."

    But the journey was far from over. As soon as Nicolaentered the operating
    theatre at St George'sin Tooting, London, every second felt like an hour for her
    anxious parents. "When she went through those doors, we didn't know whether we
    would ever see her again," says Mike. "It was agony."

    "Thankfully the operation went fine, adds Denise. "But shortly
    afterwards,Nic suf-fered renal failure. "The first few hours were critical.
    After that, we just took it minute by minute, praying she'd come through it all.
    But despite being surrounded by a maze of tubes and wires,all Nic could say was
    that lady next to me looks really ill, I hope she'll be okay.' We were choked."
    Friends and family rallied around. "The support we've received from everyone has
    been overwhelming," says Mike. "There are so many people to thank for helping
    Nicola get well again,I don't know where to begin. But I'd like to give a
    special thanks to the cardiothoracic surgeon Prof Brendan Madden who is coming
    to tomorrow's wedding."

    "She's gone from a young girl who suffered a stroke and then underwent a
    heart transplant operation to working at Whiston Hospital. Now she's been
    offered a place in the CardiothoracicCentre at Broadgreen," says Mike. Nicola
    now looks the picture of good health. She's regained the weight she lost and her
    skin glows with happiness. Overjoyed with being given another shot at life,
    she's vowed to give something back. "I always wanted to be a nurse but even more
    so,after the transplant," she explains WHEN most people think of heart disease,
    they think of it being caused by an unhealthy lifestyle of bad diet,
    smoking,drinking and high stress levels.

    But not all heart disease is preventable. Every year,5,000 babies are born
    with heart defects ranging from minor abnormalities which eventually repair
    themselves to major conditions that can be life-threatening.

    Although most of these problems are identified soon after birth, sometimes
    they are not noticed until the child is older - and the effects can be

    Nicola became aware that she had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy during her
    teens - a condition where there is an excessive thickening of the heart muscle.

    TV presenter Gabby Logan suffered the most tragic consequences of the
    disease when her brother Daniel died without any warning. It was 11 years ago
    but 30-year-old Gabby, who presents ITV1's OnThe Ball, is still haunted by his
    death. "One day when he was playing football in the garden he just dropped down
    dead," she says. Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy affects one in 500 people and often
    preys on those who pride themselves on being in tip-top shape but its cause
    remains a mystery.

    There are usually no symptoms so many sufferers can die never knowing they
    had any kind of problem. In Nicola's case, the stroke alerted medics to her

    Indeed, the chances of survival are better than ever. In the 1960s,only one
    in five babies born with a congenital heart defect survived. Now it's three in
    five. This year the British Heart Foundation has dedicated Heart Week,from June
    7 to 15, to raising funds to pay for paediatric nurses,heart information and
    advice to help children and their families cope with the challenges of living
    with a congenital heart defect. Gabby is supporting the charity's Wear Red for
    Heart campaign,encouraging people to wear red and donate pounds 1.8 TO ORDER a
    fund- raising pack for the Wear Red for Heart campaign,call 0800-093
    0401."Nowadays I talk to people who a reabout to undergo a heart bypass about my
    condition and they can't believe what I've gone through. It gives them hope."

    But things weren't always that easy. Dealing with seriously ill patients
    initially bought back the trauma of tests, tubes and medication. "During
    training, my first placement was a ward in Southport," explains Nicola. "Little
    did I know it was a stroke unit. So, when the doctor started to knock the
    patients' legs and arms it all came flooding back to me. Even after three
    years,I was stillmoved. "Luckily, I've been fine since. Being a nurse is my
    vocation. I wouldn't want to do anything else. And getting married is a bonus. I
    never thought anyone would want me. Then I met Craig through a night out and it
    was love at first sight."

    GRAPHIC: A PICTURE OF HEALTH: Nicola has survived the stroke and heart disease
    which left her body wasted, above left, thanks to the support of medical experts
    and family,above right, and friends. Now she is; Pictures: MARTIN BIRCHALL;
    using her experience to help others in the same position.

    LOAD-DATE: June 12, 2003
    Thanks, Tim
    Forum Administrator

  • #2
    Re: Headline: I'm Getting Married And I Never Thought ....

    Copyright 2003 The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Ltd

    Liverpool Daily Echo

    June 12, 2003, Thursday

    SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 3

    LENGTH: 337 words




    NICOLA Hague will realise her dream of a fairy tale wedding tomorrow after
    twice winning a fight for life.

    When she was 18, the trainee nurse battled back from the brink of death
    after suffering a stroke.

    Then the West Derby teenager was told she would need a new heart to save her

    But Nicola,now 24, refused to give up despite her weight dropping to five

    Tomorrow,friends and family will gather at St Paul's RC church,in West
    Derby, for her marriage to 23 year -old car production worker Craig Jones.

    Nicola, who will be given away by father Mike, said: "It is a girl's dream
    to have a fairy tale wedding and I was no different.

    "What happened to me could have killed me but I was not meant to die. "It
    will be a very special when I marry Craig. It really was love at first sight
    when we met.

    "We were both in a bar with our friends when we got chatting and immediately
    hit it off.

    "Six months later, when he proposed, I knew he was the man I wanted to be
    with forever.

    "To be alive is amazing and I will be making the most of the big day."

    Nicola suffered a stroke in October 1997 at home. Doctors discovered she had
    an enlarged heart which had caused a blood clot to travel to her brain and
    diagnosed Nicola with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which required a heart

    As she waited for a donor, her weight plummeted but in 1998 a match was
    found and Nicola had the operation at St George's hospital, London.

    She added: "The surgeon,Professor Brendan Madden, will be at the wedding and
    I cannot thank him enough.

    "Medical staff inspired me to become a cardiothoracic nurse so I can help
    people in the same situation as me."

    Mother denise,46,a medical receptionist, said: "She really was brave. We are
    all so proud of her.

    Mike added: "Nic did look dreadful when she was ill but she battled on."

    Nicola today urged ECHO readers to get behind the British Heart Foundation's
    new Wear Red For Heart campaign.

    For details call 0800 093 0401.

    GRAPHIC: BRIDE-TO-BE:Trainee nurse Nicola Hague, who fought back to health after
    a heart transplant, talks to a patient Picture: MARTIN BIRCHALL

    LOAD-DATE: June 13, 2003
    Thanks, Tim
    Forum Administrator


    • #3
      Re: Headline: I'm Getting Married And I Never Thought ....

      What a blessing for Nic! I'm sure her story will inspire many today. Linda


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