Stalham teenager looks to the future after successful heart transplant

16 year-old Ella Tovell, left, had a heart transplant when she was 14. Two years on and she is fight

16 year-old Ella Tovell, left, had a heart transplant when she was 14. Two years on and she is fighting fit and recently attended her school prom. Pictured with her friend Clarissa Dumpleton, 16, who is having her head shaved to raise money for Great Ormand Street Hospital where Ella had her transplant.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

The mother of a teenager who was given a year to live, two years ago, said her daughter was given the 'greatest gift' after a successful heart transplant.

Ella Tovell, 16, from Upper Staithe Road, Stalham, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy – an enlarged left ventricle – at seven weeks old.

After undergoing the operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in November 2011, her life has turned around and she has completed six GCSEs at Flegg High School, Martham.

Her mother, Lisa Tovell, 42, said: 'It was a little bit scary. We were told there would be no cure and she would need a heart transplant.

'We were lucky she kept her original heart for 14 years as a lot of children who have the condition do not.'

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'You don't take anything for granted and you never plan ahead. It has probably been hard for her because she hasn't had the freedom that her sister or other friends had.'

Until the age of six, Ella had to take about seven drugs a day which went up to 31 a day after the transplant. She now only has to take about three different types of medication daily.

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She was often 'blue, weak and clammy' and has spent just over half of her life at school because of her illness and trips to GOSH.

A month before her transplant she was given a year to live and Ella said she was 'terrified' when she found out a replacement heart had been found – from a woman in her 20s.

'I didn't believe it was happening that quickly. I didn't think I was ready for it,' she added. 'I'm glad I went through with it because my life is a lot better now. I'm a lot more independent.'

Ella, who recently went to the Flegg high prom at Southwood Hall, Norwich, said she never thought she would be able to go.

Her mother said: 'That was quite amazing. I got very emotional because I did not know if she would get to that stage. I'm so proud of her.'

She added it was 'incredibly important' that people signed up to the organ donation service.

Ella, who is described as 'stubborn and determined', said she would have loved to have been able to thank her donor.

She can now enjoy swimming, cycling and playing badminton and will be taking part in the Transplant Games at GOSH on August 4, where youngsters who have had transplants meet up and compete in sports to raise money for the hospital.

The teenager hopes to study A-levels in health and social care, business studies and sociology at East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston. She will also complete her science GCSE at the centre.

Her aim is to become a children's cardiac nurse at GOSH after being inspired by the staff who treated her.

School friend Clarissa Dumpleton, 16, from Barleycroft, Hemsby, will be raising money for GOSH by getting her hair shaved off at Acle Social Club on July 27.

She said: 'Her family have a way of saying thank-you, but friends don't have that chance. I wanted to do something special. Ella has kept really well.'

To make a donation visit This week is National Transplant Week and for more information about that and organ donation visit

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