Miracle mum in transplant games

PUBLISHED: 10:58 26 July 2007 | UPDATED: 21:45 29 May 2010

Teri Cornell looking a picture of health - Pic: Dick Harding

Teri Cornell looking a picture of health - Pic: Dick Harding

A MOTHER who has had a heart and lung transplant is off to Edinburgh to compete in the British Transplant Games this weekend. Teri Cornell, of Godfrey Way, Dunmow, will be competing in the shot-putt, long-jump, 50-metre breaststroke, swimming relay, 100m

A MOTHER who has had a heart and lung transplant is off to Edinburgh to compete in the British Transplant Games this weekend.

Teri Cornell, of Godfrey Way, Dunmow, will be competing in the shot-putt, long-jump, 50-metre breaststroke, swimming relay, 100m sprint and the three-kilometre walk.

"Since my operation in 2002, I've taken up sport to keep fit and healthy," said the 37-year-old. "Two years ago I ran the London Marathon and I'm now in training to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in October next year to raise awareness about transplants."

She intends to scale Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the world's tallest mountain at nearly 20,000ft (6000m), with a team of doctors, surgeons, physios and patients who have had transplants.

The BBC is in talks with the team over filming people who are awaiting transplants, to show how ill they are and how quickly they can recover.

Her achievements are even more amazing when you compare her life now to how it was five years ago.

Before her operation at

Papworth Hospital near Cambridge, Mrs Cornell was in a wheelchair, on oxygen 24 hours-a-day and had daily intravenous antibiotic injections.

Mrs Cornell was born with cystic fibrosis, a condition that clogs the lungs with thick mucus making it increasingly difficult to breathe. Sufferers have a life expectancy of 31 years.

She explained that, after the operation the improvement in her health seemed remarkable, recounting: "I spent 24 hours in intensive care and then the next day I walked into a normal ward; Before, I could just about make it across the lounge. On day four I was taken to the gym, and by day 13 I was allowed to go home."

What she hadn't expected was the effect on her legs. Having spent years in a wheelchair, the muscles had withered and the new lifestyle meant she had to build them up again.

"I started off shuffling along like an old woman. However, it was nice in a way because, for once, it wasn't my chest that hurt."

Mrs Cornell says the difference in her life after the operation is amazing. She has just graduated as an Occupational Therapist and is now looking for an opening at a hospital within commuting distance from her home.

"It's not just an improvement in my life," she explained, "but also everyone around me.

"My son, Cameron who is eight-years-old now, has a mother. I can play chase with him.

"My husband, Garry, doesn't have to come home from work to start doing all the housework.

"Now he can really enjoy family life and not worry about me."

Mrs Cornell would encourage people to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register by going to www.uktransplant.org.uk and clicking on the link.

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