Stacie Pridden, 22, featured prominently in the Adver’s recent campaign to publicise the NHS Organ Donation Register. Born with three holes in her heart and diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH) at 11, she is awaiting a heart and lung transplant. Stacie lives in Pinehurst and works part-time for WH Smith
WHEN a person on the waiting list for a heart and lung transplant goes public in a blog, it’s inevitable that medical matters are the first thing outsiders associate them with.
Stacie Pridden knows this and cheerfully uses her position to help others, but she also likes to remind the world that behind the campaigning is a 22-year-old person.
Her blog – called Life is Worth the Fight (stacie-lifeisworththefight.blogspot.co.uk) – covers not just medical issues but also her studies, music, films, fashion, and countless other subjects.
“I’m ill but I do everything that a normal person does,” she said. “I like everything that a normal 22-year-old likes. You try to do things as much as you can.”
Stacie started the blog last summer, inspired by National Transplant Week and other blogs by people awaiting transplants.
“I get a lot of questions from parents with children who have PH because they’re worried their kids won’t make it to adulthood and stuff like that. “I’ve had parents say it’s really helped them to see that their children can grow up to lead normal lives.”
Stacie was born at the old Princess Margaret Hospital. Mum Beverley works in sales at WH Smith and dad Anthony is a security guard. Stacie has five siblings including a twin sister, Megan.
“One of my earliest memories is of a creche, so I must have been about 18 months old. “My mum was taking me and Megan to the creche and my sister refused to go in.” Stacie recalls going in, sitting down and starting to play.
“I left Wootton Bassett School at 16,” she added. “That was in 2007. I went to college for three years – New College. I did quite a lot. I did politics, history, law and maths – I failed maths. “I started studying in June of 2011 for an Open University degree. I should be finished by June of next year hopefully.”
Her degree is in history, a subject that has fascinated her since her GCSE studies, and a special area of interest is the Second World War. And after she graduates? “I’m planning to do a PGCE to become a teacher, hopefully teaching history.”
In her education, as in everything else, Stacie has always refused to allow medical issues to thwart her. She became aware at an early age that she faced challenges not encountered by others.
“That was probably because I started school,” she said. “I was about five. It was the moment when I fainted in the playground. I woke up to have a circle of kids surrounding me, waiting for me to wake up.”
Then there was the time when stitches from one of the operations she had every year from ages one to 10 burst. “I think that was when I realised I wasn’t exactly normal...”
Although her medical condition is only one aspect of her life, it’s something she obviously cannot ignore – not with a daily regime involving five different pills and regular use of a nebuliser. Anything but passive, she has a growing profile as an advocate for the NHS Organ Donation Register. She has a no-nonsense message for anybody who is wavering about registering as a donor.
“I just think people need to put themselves in my and my family’s position. “If they would be willing to take an organ, then they have no reason not to be on that list.”
Stacie also urges people to talk to their families about their wishes should the worst happen, and cites a statistic that 40 percent of registered donors’ families refuse to have a loved one’s organs harvested for transplantation, thereby thwarting would-be donors’ wishes and preventing potentially life-saving surgery.
“They need to sign up and they need to talk to their family members. People need to talk about it more – it needs to become not so much of a taboo subject.”