A Huddersfield mother who lost two daughters to heart disease is encouraging people to leave a gift to the British Heart Foundation in their will.
Jo Kelly’s daughters, Sarah and Laura, were diagnosed at birth with a congenital heart defect which affected the aorta and other arteries. Despite Sarah’s diagnosis, Jo was told the condition may correct itself and that it was not life-threatening, but she died suddenly at four-and-a-half-months-old.
Jo said: “At this stage we were not told other children we may have, could also have heart problems. Our second daughter, Laura, was born almost exactly a year after Sarah’s death. When Laura was born we were told that she had the same heart condition. It was a devastating thing to hear. We were also told that because of its severity she couldn’t survive long, and that we should prepare for her to die young.
“We were very lucky as Laura had a near ‘normal’ life and required no medication. She blossomed and did everything that other children did. She had a love for life and lived it to the full, always smiling and never moaning or complaining. In the end, Laura didn’t quite make it to her 21st (birthday). She collapsed and died in Park Lane, London, just three days before her birthday. We were there with a group of her closest friends to start her 21st celebrations, which were going to continue all week until her official party the following weekend. Her consultant said it was probably the exertion and excitement that had caused her sudden death.
“As tragic and heart-breaking as her death was I take some comfort in the fact that Laura was happy when she died. Her last words to me were ‘I am having such a lovely time and am so happy Mum’ and she was surrounded by the people who loved her most.”
For details on giving to the BHF, visit bhf.org.uk/think