Sponsored mile long swim success for Old Costessey liver disease sufferer

After defying the predictions of doctors who said she had a decade to live, a woman from Old Costessey suffering from a liver disease has helped those going through the same struggle with a mile long swim.

Elaine Smith, now 49, was given the prediction when she was first diagnosed with Primary Bilary Syrosis (PBS) at the age of 27, but has fought to lead as normal a life as possible and still works as a hairdresser.

And it was this weekend that in front of family and friends she completed 64 lengths of Dereham Swimming pool, and raising �1,300 towards a machine that will allow patients with the energy-sapping disease to be scanned in four minutes, and without the pain of a needle.

Elaine -said: 'I had done a practice the week before, but it's a bit different when you have people watching you.

'It took me 45 minutes and after a while I didn't take notice of who was there as you have to concentrate to do the distance, but though I was told I was getting lower in the water and the lifeguards offered to do it for me I knew I had to complete it.'

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Having swum a mile and a half to raise money for the Liver Trust 13 years ago, Elaine got involved with the latest fundraiser after one of her clients at work told her of efforts to raise �70,000 as part of the Fibroscan Appeal. The machine would also prevents patients having to stay the night at the hospital.

Elaine, who resolved to do the swim six weeks ago had been practising ahead of the big day in her neighbour's swimming pool, said she was shocked when first told about her disease but has fought to not let it dominate her life.

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'When I first heard it was scary and I just couldn't believe that you have to have a transplant and someone has to die for that to happen.'

To get a liver transplant, she has been told she would need to have an expected two or three months to live.

'I've been told I'm getting worse but I don't think of that day coming,' she added.

'I just try and get on with my life as much as possible. It's been good doing this swim, as it proves if you want to do something you can.'

Do you know someone who has received an award for their work in the community? Call Local Life editor David Freezer on 01603 772418 or email david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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