Family says thank you to lifesaving charity

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A COUPLE have given a golden thank you to a charity whose vital research has helped save their son’s life.

When Kath and Vic Cookson’s son Steve was diagnosed with a heart condition at the age of 18 months, the devastated couple were told he would be unlikely to live past his 30th birthday.

But today Steve has surpassed that by 14 years and now has a wife and two sons – and his parents put it down to the valuable work of the British Heart Foundation, which has helped come up with pioneering treatments which have prolonged Steve’s life.

To say thank you, Kath and Vic, of Jekils Bank, Holbeach St John’s handed over £150 they received instead of golden wedding anniversary presents to the charity, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Mrs Cookson said: “We really wanted to thank the British Heart Foundation because without their research Steve probably wouldn’t still be here today.

“I wouldn’t say he is as fit as a fiddle now, because he’s not, but he is able to do the things that daddies do with his two young sons and there was a time when we didn’t expect to see that.”

Steve’s sister Angela, from Wisbech, has also handed over £1,750 to BHF after doing a sponsored skydive.

Helena Mair, BHF fundraising manager for Lincolnshire, said: “We would like to thank the Cookson family for their tremendous support.

“Steve has had a really tough time and we need the help of people like Kath and Vic so we can continue our vital and life-saving work and help people like Steve.

Steve, who now lives in Peterborough with his wife Izzy and their sons, who are 11 and three, was just 13 years old when he had his first major operation, when a valve from a pig’s heart was used to replace his faulty one.

As the years passed following the successful operation, Kath and Vic were able to push the gloomy forecast for Steve’s life expectancy to their back of their minds – especially when he passed the magical 30th birthday milestone.

But six years ago their son’s health began to deteriorate and at the age of 39, Steve was having an MRI scan when he suffered a heart attack.

His pig valve had failed and his family thought their worst fears had finally come true.

A mechanical valve was fitted, which did not help Steve, so last year he became one of the first people in the country to have a “piggyback” heart transplant, which replaced just the non-working valve of Steve’s heart with that of a donor.

Mrs Cookson said: “It has been a very worrying time, but we are now back to where we were with it always at the back of our minds.

“We always fear the worst when the phone rings early in the morning, but Steve is getting on with his life and so are we.”