The Best Is Yet To Come: Emma Anderson walks down the aisle after learning to walk again, then appears in emotional Tom Walker music video
A young mum who received a heart transplant after her daughter twice saved her life using Alexa has appeared in a music video by Scots chart star Tom Walker.
Emma Anderson, from Robroyston in Glasgow, was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy just before she turned 16, which makes the heart muscle too thick to function correctly.
The 27-year-old received a life-saving heart transplant last year after being put on the urgent list following one of her regular check-ups by specialists from the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service (SNAHFS) team, based at NHS Golden Jubilee in Clydebank.
Emma told her daughter Darcey from a young age that she had a ‘sore heart’ and taught her what to do if she became ill at home.
And Darcey, now aged 6, stayed calm and composed on 2 occasions when the time came.
Emma said: “We told Darcey that mummy had a sore heart so she’s always known I’ve had heart problems.
“I set up the Alexa so that if I passed out or was feeling unwell all she had to do was say, ‘Alexa, call help!’, and that would call my mum who lives around the corner.
“And she’s had to call on Alexa a couple of times, she even called an ambulance on her own and that time I was in a really bad way. I’m so proud of her, she is a wee superstar!”
When first diagnosed her condition was being managed with medication before having 2 monitors fitted, which act like constant ECGs, and then an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).
At the start of last year her ICD ‘fired’ 3 times in the space of 2 months, meaning her heart had stopped and the ICD ‘shocked’ the heart into restarting.
Emma said: “If I exerted myself too much, I would pass out. Sometimes even just walking would do it so I had to use a mobility scooter to pick Darcey up from school, which is only a 5-minute walk from my house.
“When I was on the routine transplant list I was told that I was being kept in after one of my regular check-ups and that I was going on the urgent list.
“I was 26 and had a 5-year-old daughter while I was in hospital away from my family so I was going out of my mind a little, but I knew I had to be there. If I’d left hospital I wouldn’t have lived past 6 months.
“Since my transplant I have a totally new life now. I can actually walk to school and pick her up and walk back again, something I could never do before.
“Over Easter I managed to take Darcey swimming and to the playpark, the farm park, simple things I wasn’t able to do before, I can do now. I’m able to be a mummy now.”
Following her transplant Emma spent weeks in hospital as a result of complications, but she recovered just in time to marry husband Conner, a mechanic, in July last year, and she is overwhelmingly grateful to her organ donor for the gift of life and making her dream big day come true.
She said: “Getting a transplant is a very hard road, it’s not easy. I was on life support and all sorts of other treatments after my operation for a long while, and my muscles deteriorated so much I couldn’t walk any more.
“The only thing I seemed to care about once I was better was learning to walk again so I could walk down that aisle and get married. I was literally discharged just over a week before the wedding, I still had stitches in walking down the aisle.
“It’s very difficult to put into words how grateful I am to my donor. It’s horrible to think someone had to lose their life for me to live, but it has given me the chance to get married, see my daughter grow up and be a mum.
“I was broken thinking I wouldn’t see Darcey go on to secondary school. The chance this person and their family has given me is something my family and I could never repay.”
Emma was 1 of 40 people to have a heart transplant in Scotland last year, a record number in a single year within the SNAHFS programme, Scotland’s only heart transplant centre based in the Golden Jubilee University National Hospital.
Jonathan Dalzell, consultant cardiologist and clinical lead of SNAHFS, said: “Innovation in technique and advancements in technology, such as an organ care system to allow surgeons to transplant hearts from donors who die after circulatory death, have helped increase the availability of hearts for transplant.
“Emma’s story provides a reminder for us all of the power of transplantation, not only to save lives, but to improve quality of life beyond all recognition for the patient and their family.
“Emma is now physically able to enjoy motherhood to the full and her daughter, who saved her life twice from the illness that has now been cured, has a mum that is healthier than she has ever known.
“Stories such as Emma’s provide phenomenal motivation and inspiration to all of our team.”
The best is yet to come
While Emma was recovering in hospital she created a TikTok video with images of different stages of her heart journey using Scots singing star Tom Walker’s song, ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’.
And to her delight and surprise, Tom Walker was so touched by the video he invited Emma down to his recording studios in London to be part of a video featuring ordinary people who had inspired him from videos they had posted online.
The emotional video features domestic abuse survivors, people who have been through tough times, have physical and mental health issues and offers hope to that things can and do get better.
In the video, Emma dedicates her participation to her organ donor.
Emma added: “The song really helped me through my journey from before and after my transplant and then Tom contacted me and asked me to go down to London and be part of his music video to raise awareness.
“So I went down and did that with other people who were absolutely incredible, who had been through a lot in life too, and it was so nice of Tom to recognise that through his inspiring music.
“Like the lyrics say, I definitely think the best is yet to come for me thanks to my organ donor.”
Chief Executive of NHS Golden Jubilee, Gordon James, said: “As we celebrate 75 years of the NHS, Emma’s inspiring story shows us how valuable and crucial the life-saving care the NHS provides is to our patients.
“The dedication of all of our staff and, of course, across all of the NHS, makes stories like this possible and we will strive to continue to give the people of Scotland a healthcare service to be proud of here at NHS Golden Jubilee.”
Link to Tom Walker video: Tom Walker - The Best Is Yet to Come (Your Video) - YouTube
Emma’s TikTok video: Went for a routine check up and was immediately admitted, nearly lost ... | TikTok
Today, 3 July also marks the 15 years since the Heart and Lung Service was relocated and opened at NHS Golden Jubilee. Since then, the service has continued to provide vital procedures, tests and care to patients from across Scotland.
Since the service re-located in 2008, the service has:
The service is also made up of the Thoracic Surgical Unit, which provides a full range of surgical procedures. Since the service opened at NHS Golden Jubilee, the Thoracic Service has performed more than 19,400 procedures for patients from across NHS Scotland.
This number includes excess of 2,300 Lobectomy procedures, which involves removing an entire lobe of the lung due to reasons such as cancer or infection.
The Thoracic service also perform a number of procedures for pneumothorax (collapsed lung) and investigative surgeries like bronchoscopy and pleural biopsy.
More recently, the service has performed over 1,000 robotic procedures to treat patients since the innovative technology was first used at NHS Golden Jubilee in 2018.