Teenage dancer from Knaresborough who had heart failure at 16 speaks about life-saving transplant as impact of pandemic on waiting list revealed

A Knaresborough teenager has shared how a lifesaving heart transplant during the pandemic has changed her future.

Knaresborough teenager Amelia Annear was one of over 200 who received an organ donation in Yorkshire over the past year

Amelia Annear, 18, a student at York College, suffered heart failure when she was 16 and had a heart transplant in February this year.

She said: “Covid made everything very difficult and there were times when my parents couldn’t visit me in hospital. I was really relieved that I was able to get a heart and to have survived the transplant. I do think I will be able to dance again. I’ve been training myself and getting myself back to physical fitness.

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“It just feels amazing. I feel like a little kid again. I feel different because I’ve been so poorly. It’s like a new lease of life. It is like being given a second chance.

"I was given the chance to find out about my donor and I decided to write a letter to the donor’s family and just say thank you. They’ve quite literally saved my life by choosing to donate organs. As my letter got sent off, I got one back from the donor’s family telling me more about my donor which was so comforting to hear.

We are so alike and share a lot of the same interests. It was amazing the likenesses and interests that we have and I wanted to make the family aware that I wasn’t going to waste the gift that they have given me. I’ve been given something amazing.”

It comes as 400 people in Yorkshire are still waiting for an organ transplant, while 271 received one last year, a new report has shown.

The NHS Blood and Transport service said transplant levels were sustained at 75 per cent of normal donation levels even at the height of the pandemic, but some 449 are still on the waiting list.

Some 3,391 people across the UK were recipients of a life-saving organ last year after 1,180 people made donations after their death.

The number of people on the organ transplant waiting list fell as low as 400 people in Yorkshire by March this year, but the report warned that this is not due to a decrease in demand.

Many were removed from the transplant list at the height of the pandemic as operations were cancelled due to the increased risk of covid infection.

And donations from living donors - commonly of kidneys - dropped significantly, with just 35 happening in Yorkshire last year.

John Forsythe, medical director of organ and tissue donation and transplantation, said: “We realise this has been a very worrying time for those patients who are waiting for a transplant and the families supporting those patients.

“We would like to reassure them that the recovery of organ donation and transplantation, both living and deceased, is well underway and deceased donation rates are back to pre-COVID levels thanks to the huge support of all those families who agree to donation and the clinical teams who work tirelessly to get the best outcome for patients.”