Three years ago, model Bec Craven was given what she thought was a death sentence. Now she is an inspiration to many, with a successful heart transplant and a flourishing modelling career.
Here is her story:
I was 24, had just had a holiday in Bali, and was planning to move to Cairns to study marine biology and then travel the world. Heart failure was not in my storybook. It wasn’t supposed to happen.
I’d returned from Bali at the end of 2013 with a mystery virus. I kept getting worse and I could barely walk 50 metres. I was diagnosed with pneumonia but ended up in hospital after I collapsed. One of the doctors listened to my chest and ordered an echocardiogram to check my heart function.
They kept me in intensive care overnight and by the morning they’d told me I had heart failure.
Being told my heart was failing and I could have a shortened life was horrific. It shattered my dreams and my goals and I don’t think my family or I could comprehend at first how serious it was.
We were all in shock.
Bec Craven talks about the day she found out she needed a heart transplant with Mia Freedman on Non Filter:
I was transferred to Brisbane’s Prince Charles Hospital and it hit me really, really hard. It was absolutely devastating. My heart kept deteriorating and after eight months they started talking about a transplant. It all seemed surreal. The doctors couldn’t put a timeframe on the transplant but people can wait up to two years.
In the next month my heart deteriorated again and the doctors said I’d need a mechanical heart as a bridge to transplant.
Without a mechanical heart they gave me two weeks to live. They placed a metal pump in the left side of my heart to pump the blood. There was a wire protruding from my stomach that went into a laptop-looking bag with two batteries. You have that on 24/7.
Mechanical hearts had only been invented 10 years earlier so thank goodness this happened when it did. But the mechanical heart was really restrictive. I couldn’t shower properly. I couldn’t go swimming. I had to have someone looking after me 24/7. I was at the hospital twice a week and I couldn’t be more than two hours away from the hospital at any time.
While I waited for my new heart I had to keep myself busy or my mind would run away and I’d get very down. I started drawing and painting a lot, I listened to so much music, and I watched a lot of movies and TV shows. I bought fish to keep me entertained! I also have a dog and he was a massive help. But I missed out on a lot of things in life – concerts, parties, swimming, travel, driving.