Earlier this year, Royal Papworth Charity shared Eliza's story, who after being diagnosed at 12 years old with a rare heart condition led a rather normal teenage life, completing her A-Levels and heading to University. However, soon after starting university Eliza fell very sick and was admitted to Royal Papworth Hospital to have a heart transplant. Over half a year post-surgery, Eliza shares recovery experience;

“The first night after my transplant I remember my heart beating very fast. It felt like Mr Tsui had installed me with AA batteries. I called Sophie but she said, "this is perfectly normal, you have a perfectly healthy heart” and at that point I realised I was going to have to get used to actually having a heart beat again, which is an amazing feeling!”

“The most difficult part of recovery was being away from family and friends during recovery but having my Dad by my side for two months made a massive difference. In the first couple of weeks post-transplant you are constantly busy with physio therapy, blood samples, and lessons with the transplant nurses. I never felt alone. When people say Royal Papworth is like a big family, it really is. I felt really cared for and always had some to have a natter with even when my family couldn’t be there.

“One of my fondest memories during my recovery was managing to watch all 8 seasons of game of thrones. I used to dread it when the physio therapy team would come along and encourage me to move around more. I ended up calling them the White Walkers because of their uniforms. But they were so great at encouraging me to take those first scary steps.”

To celebrated being discharged from Royal Papworth Hospital and her birthday, Eliza celebrated how every 20-something year old dreams:

“I had a house party at my brother’s house in Bristol. It was a classic all-nighter. The ironic thing was I was still hyped in the early hours of the morning while most of my friends were flagging behind. Even my friend Abi who had a double Lung transplant was able to make it and celebrate. Because I had a genetic heart condition I was always told I wasn't allowed to do much exercise or drink so a lot of my teenage years I did to feel quite left out.”

“Thanks to my donor, I have also started to do more exercise. It is a great feeling that I never thought I would get to experience again before my transplant."

"In the coming months I would love to start Horse riding again and some surfing. Alongside this I’m starting to research courses such as yoga teacher training, life coaching and counselling.”

During her stay at Royal Papworth Hospital, Eliza organised fundraising events with her family and friends, to thank the staff and the care at Royal Papworth Hospital. Named ‘Let the Beat Drop’, the fundraiser aims to raise £30,000 for the expense of one Transmedic portable perfusion machine. These machines can only be used once and are essential in transporting a DCD heart between the donor and recipient. Currently the NHS does not support the DCD transplant program and therefore it is solely funded by the Royal Papworth Hospital Charity. 

“Whilst living in Hospital I had no idea when my Transplant would be and felt completely out of control. However, one thing I could be in control of was raising more money by sharing my story and feeling like I had a purpose by actively raising money for the DCD which was about to save my life.”

“The name is linked to House music which has a big drop in the song. I thought it was quite fitting as the DCD heart is basically allowing the beat of recipient’s heart to drop (stop) in exchange for the new stronger beating heart.”

Alongside, Eliza's packed fundraising, on 9th July Eliza was invited to attend the royal opening and to meet The Queen, along with friend and former patient Yasmin in recognition of her fundraising and efforts to raise awareness for Royal Papworth's transplant work.

“It was truly an amazing feeling to meet The Queen. Initially it was very secretive and I didn’t actually know who the VIP guest was until a couple of weeks before the day. She was such a lovely person and made Yasmin and I feel completely at ease. It will be a day I will never forget.”

Royal Papworth are incredibly thankful to Eliza and her friends and families fundraising efforts. Some of her events have included music nights, Spartan Runs and 24 hour cycle rides. Recently she has collaborated with the artist John Trigg and organised a series of images called 'Heart of the Matter', exploring themes of resilience through the stages of heart transplantation and recovery. The prints of the art work are also being sold on her website to further help raise money: https://www.elizasletthebeatdrop.com/shop 

“I hope the gallery helps spread the word about heart transplantation and grab the imagination of people who may not necessarily know much about heart transplants in a more creative way. The main aim will be to sell the images to raise funds for ‘Let the Beat Drop’.”

“I would definitely urge you to support the Hospital’s Charity if you or any of your family have been helped by Royal Papworth Hospital. I felt that fundraising helped to bring my friends and family together in a time when things were very tough. When everything with my health was going wrong, fundraising was the one thing that I was in control which was creating a positive impact.”

 ‘Let the Beat Drop’ will continue to have events throughout the year with plans to continue to organise fundraisers until they meet their £30,000 target.

On 12th December, Eliza and her 'Let the Beat Drop' team have organised an art exhibition in the Main Atrium of Royal Papworth Hospital. Together with artist John Trigg, Eliza will be showcasing eight bespoke prints depicting transplant treatment along with live music and a raflle with some fantastic prizes.

To support and donate to Eliza’s ‘Let the Beat Drop’, visit her fundraiser page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/chris-durham6.
You can also keep up with her recent fundraising events on her Instagram @elizasletthebeatdrop