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Monday, 21 April 2014

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How a pacemaker gave mum a new lease of life

AN ACTIVE mother who was fitted with a pacemaker at the age of 21 has backed a campaign to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation.

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Heartfelt thanks: Gemma Bosanko with her daughter Olivia

Gemma Bosanko, a single mother-of-one from Millom, began suffering from seizures six year ago, and was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2008.

Despite receiving treatment, the seizures did not stop and she was taken for further testing, which determined her heart rate was dropping and pausing.

She said: “At one point my heart rhythm paused for 28 seconds. Doctors also identified that after these pauses I would often have a fit.

“Within a week of my test, on August 14, 2008, I had a pacemaker fitted.”

Ms Bosanko was diagnosed with neurocardiogenic syncopy, a condition where less blood reaches the brain causing symptoms such as dizziness and fainting and sometimes abnormalities with the heart’s rhythm.

She said: “When I found out I had to have a pacemaker I was absolutely distraught. I felt like they were for old people; I thought everything was going to stop. I thought that was the end of my running and going to the gym.”

Ms Bosanko says she was so terrified that she tried to refuse the operation. However, nurses from the British Heart Foundation, who are funded by donations from the public, intervened.

She said: “They were really lovely and really comforting. I just cried all day but they explained everything to me; that it was not as intrusive as I thought and they helped me understand the importance of it.”

Ms Bosanko said before their intervention she could not come to terms with having it fitted.

She said: “Without them I don’t know how I would have got my head around it. In 2010 I had my daughter, Olivia. It was very frightening to think that something might happen to me.

“I am a single parent and it worries me to think that if anything happened I’d be leaving Olivia on her own. Before she was born I moved back to Cumbria to be near my family.”

After the pacemaker was fitted, Ms Bosanko was able to return to her normal routine, until last year when she fainted during a workout at her gym.

Another heart condition, tachycardia, was diagnosed and a device was implanted to monitor her heart.

She said: “At first I felt a lot of stigma about the pacemaker. But now I feel completely different. It’s what’s keeping me alive.”

Ms Bosanko is backing the ITV Text Santa appeal, which is raising money for selected charities of which BHF is one.

Visit www.bhf.org.uk and follow the Text Santa link.

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