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Teenager dreams of new ‘hockey heart’ after rare condition

By The Hockey Paper

An aspiring hockey teenager’s father has told of his daughter’s brave fight after collapsing at school and being diagnosed with a rare heart condition. Her aim? To walk out of hospital with a new heart, dribbling a hockey ball.

Anna Hadley, 13, had just been selected for Worcestershire under-13s last November when the incident occurred during a PE lesson.

Anna was subsequently diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy and Long QT syndrome, a disorder of the heart’s electrical activity, meaning that she couldn’t play competitive sports.

Such was her love of hockey and playing the sport, an initial switch to goalkeeping proved short-lived after stress tests revealed that her heart disorder was potentially the cause of previous collapses.

After waiting months to find out her plight, she has now been officially placed on the heart transplant waiting list. But her wait could last up to a year or more.

“My new ‘hockey heart’ will save my life and allow me to play hockey again,” she said.

“I can’t wait for that day to happen, but it also makes me sad to think that another person will lose their life in order to save mine.”

In recent weeks, she has aimed to raise money for the British Heart Foundation and took part in the Worcester Hearty Walk where she has raised nearly £3,000. She was joined on the walk by nearly 40 friends and family.

“Anna was overwhelmed at the turn out at the event and the money raised having initially set a target of £100,” said her father, Andrew.

“Not being able to play hockey is so incredibly frustrating, particularly as she had just been selected for Worcestershire. It was a cruel blow for someone so active and dedicated to playing hockey.

“Anna is now limited to gentle walks, and other similar low impact exercises which maintains a low level heart rate.”

The aim for the Hadley family is for Anna to keep her own heart for as long as possible, due to the risks centred around heart transplants.

“Anna just wishes she had her new hockey heart now so that she can get back on the pitch instead of watching from the sidelines,” Andew added.

“Her dream is to recover quickly after transplant and then dribble a hockey ball out of Great Ormond Street Hospital and get back into training and playing.”

While on the transplant waiting list Anna is raising awareness of the lack of registered paediatric donors and also the risk of undiagnosed heart disease in youngsters playing competitive sports.

The Hadley family are all registered donors, while Anna has consented to offering her old heart valves for donation, ensuring other patients can escape a lifetime of medications. Her heart muscle will be used in research projects.

While Anna waits for her “hockey heart” she has been supported by England women’s squad who have written her cards, provided gifts and even made donations to her online fundraising page.

The Hockey Paper wishes her well and you can support her fundraising efforts here

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