Following a visit to her GP, Marie discovered she had a bicuspid aortic heart valve. When her condition worsened and she was told she needed a replacement heart valve, Marie wanted to ensure she would be able to continue playing sports.

Marie has always been fit, healthy and active – regularly playing badminton and netball. When her GP detected a heart murmur, Marie was sent for X-rays which revealed she had a bicuspid valve, though Marie had never experienced any symptoms.

As Marie explained, “I just kept thinking it’s going to be okay because I’m fine. I’m fit and healthy, I do sports. I run around netball courts and run around basketball courts.”

The consultant agreed that Marie was fit and well and, in all likelihood, would not require a new heart valve for another ten years.

However, just ten months later at her first annual check-up, Marie was diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis.

Marie recalls, “The consultant said, ‘we need to operate now.’”

After taking time to process the news, Marie began to consider what the impact a replacement heart valve could have on her life and, more importantly, her active lifestyle and ability to play sport.

The idea of taking blood thinners was a concern.

“I feared that I might hold back when playing sports, in case I fell over and bled.”

This led Marie to look into bovine tissue valves, which do not require blood thinners.

She discussed this with her surgeon, who had no objections, remarking that Marie was a perfect candidate for a tissue valve.

On December 7th 2018, Marie had her operation. And, though there was a lot of discomfort in the early weeks following surgery, Marie did not find the recovery too difficult; relocating her bedroom downstairs helped to make life easier.

Just three weeks after receiving her new heart valve, Marie took her first trip out: walking to the local pub with her husband for a Christmas Eve drink.

“I walked up there and had a gin. And I thought, if I can tackle that, I can tackle anything.”

With that in mind, Marie – a keen traveller – focused on her next goal. And just ten weeks after her operation, after checking with her consultant, she booked a holiday abroad.

Finally, in July 2019, Marie made her return to the netball court.

Marie’s words of advice?

“You can do anything you like after. I’ve even heard of people running marathons.”

Though Marie admits, she’s happy to give long-distance running a miss and concentrate on her long-distance sunshine holidays instead.

Watch Marie’s story here: