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Nicole will be doing a Gift of Life Walk in Adelaide and has shared her heart transplant story

As a teenager I would faint sporadically and felt lightheaded, but doctors dismissed my symptoms due to being an active and anaemic teenager with low blood pressure.

Over the next 6 years, my fainting spells increased dramatically, and my symptoms were now monitored closely. I had an annual heart check, but the rhythm would appear normal, and blood results within normal range. My height was blamed for my fainting spells.

When I was 20, I collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. Mum performed CPR and dad called the paramedics. I was placed into an induced coma for 4 days to allow my body to heal, had an internal defibrillator inserted and given different medications to control my heart rhythm. I recovered quickly and moved back to Melbourne.

When my cardiac symptoms worsened I moved back to Adelaide to be closer to family and the doctors I trusted. My defibrillator was shocking me multiple times a day until it became unbearable. I was in and out of hospital while my doctors tried their best to understand how to reduce my symptoms. New medications, surgeries and procedures were all unsuccessful.

I went into cardiac arrest again in 2017 and my youngest sister, Adriana performed CPR while my fiancé, Matt called the paramedics. I could no longer rely on the defibrillator to save my life. I needed a transplant.

I flew to St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney to see if I was a potential candidate for a heart transplant. After 10 days of testing, I went home to wait for the life-changing phone call.

On the 17th June 2018 I was lucky enough to receive that call. I was flown to Sydney within the hour with my fiancé and parents and had the transplant surgery the next day.

I am healthier and happier than I have ever been and adjusting to my new life. I wake up grateful for every new day and owe my life to organ donation.

My lifelong friend, Mahi Garbas and I created a podcast called ‘Second Time Lucky’. We discuss my health battle in more detail, shining the light on organ donation. We hope to encourage more people to become registered organ and tissue donors to potentially be to save lives like mine.


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