April 2020 marked five years since Pauline Ginn received a heart and double lung transplant. Her story is one of unique numbers – she was her PH consultant’s 100th patient, after just three months on the waiting list a match was found, and she was the first person her surgeon carried out such a transplant on.
Here, the mother-of-two from Bolton reflects on her extraordinary journey.

“My pulmonary hypertension diagnosis was confirmed when I was 42 and when I was assessed for transplant, I thought it was something that might happen in ten years or so. I had no idea just how quickly my condition was going to deteriorate to a crisis point and that I’d need a transplant within weeks.

I was in theatre for ten-and-a-half hours, in intensive care for five weeks, and on the rehab ward for two weeks – but it has all turned out well. I am here with my family and I’m not sure I would be otherwise.

The only thing I know about my donor is that she was a lady in her fifties. She lost her life but saved mine.

Life has changed totally for me in the last five years. I no longer need oxygen 24 hours a day and before having to shield I was able to go shopping without getting breathless, meet up with friends, and go out to restaurants with my family. There have been so many changes.

To be honest every day feels like a milestone for me, but in the last five years some of the things I have been so grateful to see include my son going to university and the birth of my grandchild. We are all looking forward to the next five years – and more.

My recovery is ongoing. I’m much better than five years ago but as I’m immune suppressed I tend to get a few chest infections, especially if I’ve been near someone with a cold.

The last chest infection took two lots of antibiotics and steroids to get rid of and I caught the norovirus at Christmas, which took a week to clear. Luckily, I’ve had no signs of rejection though. I’m very excited about the future!”