Heart transplant recipient Tracy Ross, of Alstonville, back at work at the Tamar Village Pharmacy in Ballina after her life-saving surgery in Sydney.
Heart transplant recipient Tracy Ross, of Alstonville, back at work at the Tamar Village Pharmacy in Ballina after her life-saving surgery in Sydney. Jay Cronan

Heart transplant survivor thankful

BORN with severe heart defects, Alstonville woman Tracy Ross was not expected to live more than three months.

She had tricuspid atresia, a heart condition in which the valve connecting the right atrium to the right ventricle does not open and the oxygen-poor blood can’t get to the lungs.

Her parents, Mick and Judy Ross, dressed her in doll’s clothes as a baby because she was so tiny as a result of her illness.

But over the years Tracy, now 35, had numerous heart operations and went on many medications.

In September last year she finally had the heart transplant she so desperately needed to ensure her survival. Tracy was on the waiting list for two years.

The operation was a huge success, but she still travels to Sydney every month for biopsies.

“I really do feel like a new woman,” Tracy said.

“The other day I was running around with my partner’s kids and I was like, ‘hey, I’m running’. I could never do that before.

“Before the transplant, I could feel myself getting worse and worse.

“Then I got the call from the hospital when I was getting ready for work one day.

“I was so nervous. You keep hoping that it’s going to happen, but you don’t know.”

Tracy spent 10 days in hospital after the operation, and a further seven weeks in hospital accommodation before returning to Alstonville.

And she’s never felt better.

“It’s the little things that make the difference,” she said.

“It was also good to know that I was able to donate part of my heart – the aorta – to a gentleman who needed it. The rest of my heart will be used for research purposes.”

It’s been a long road for Tracy, but she hasn’t been alone on her journey.

Her parents have done everything possible to help their daughter, but the whole experience has put a strain on the family’s finances.

That’s why the Lennox Head Lions Club stepped in.

The club was told of Tracy’s plight and set out to help.

Members contacted Rex Airlines, which in turn donated a number of return flights to Sydney.

The Lions have also provided the Ross family with some financial assistance.

“I am so grateful for all the support I’ve received. My partner, my parents, the Lions club, Rex and my bosses. Everyone has been amazing and have really helped me,” Tracy said.



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