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Tim Stewart
06-13-2003, 08:46 AM
Copyright 2003 The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Ltd

Daily Post (Liverpool)

June 12, 2003, Thursday

SECTION: FEATURES; Pg. 22,23

LENGTH: 1702 words

HEADLINE: HIDDEN KILLER: I'M GETTING MARRIED AND I NEVER THOUGHT ANYONE WOULD
WANT ME;
NICOLA HAGUE HAS TWICE FACED DEATH. HERE SHE TELLS PENNY FRAY ABOUT

BYLINE: PENNY FRAY

BODY:


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
collapsed.

"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
stroke.

"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
suspicious."

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
Nicola.

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
catastrophic.

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
condition.

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

Tim Stewart
06-13-2003, 08:46 AM
Copyright 2003 The Liverpool Daily Post & Echo Ltd

Liverpool Daily Echo

June 12, 2003, Thursday

SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 3

LENGTH: 337 words

HEADLINE: LION-HEARTED

BYLINE: MATT SLATER

BODY:


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
life.

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

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
transplant.

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

Linda
06-13-2003, 11:16 AM
What a blessing for Nic! I'm sure her story will inspire many today. Linda