Hi, I’m Chandni and I’m a 37 year old working mum of two. I was diagnosed with congenital heart disease at the age of 32. 

It was a shock and I was devastated when I was diagnosed because since the age of 20 I have been very active and I thought that the diagnosis would mean that I could no longer workout. But luckily my doctors agreed that as long as I didn’t experience any symptoms of my heart disease (e.g. extreme breathlessness, chest pain etc.) I could continue exercising with caution. And so I did!

Over the next five years, I continued working out and also went on to have two beautiful children too, even though my heart disease was worsening over that time (I still had no symptoms). 

Then, in June this year, I had a call from my Cardiologist who told me that needed to have my aortic valve replaced urgently because my existing valve was in a critical condition. We decided that I would have open heart surgery in September 2020. 

Because I am autoimmune, and so there was a high risk of my new valve being rejected by my body, I was offered a human valve replacement (known as a homograft) – a valve transplant, so to speak. 

I was extremely lucky and my surgeon managed to find me a suitable donor valve one week before my surgery was scheduled. It was a from a 52 year old woman who had sadly passed away in Liverpool. 

The surgery went well and despite a few scares in the first 48 hours, I have been recovering well. My surgeon said my old valve was so damaged that he doesn’t know how I’m still alive and that the only explanation is that the exercise conditioned my heart to keep pumping regardless. 

I am now 14 weeks post operation and back to my normal life juggling two young children, a full-time job and being a health and fitness coach on the side!

Life may be super busy and very chaotic but I wouldn’t have it any other way because I have learned that it is a precious gift that must be cherished. And so I will remain forever grateful to my valve donor and her family – without them, I may not be around today to make more memories with mine.