SURVIVORS of congenital cardiac disease are baring their scars in a photo exhibition to raise awareness of heart conditions.

 

The Scarred FOR Life project will see a number of photos by Herald photographer Kirsty Anderson go on display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow for a month from February 13.

It was devised by three volunteers born with heart conditions - Evening Times reporter Caroline Wilson, Dr Liza Morton and Jenny Kumar - on behalf of adult heart charity The Somerville Foundation.

Ms Wilson, who had open heart surgery in her early 30s, said the exhibition was being organised to raise awareness of congenital heart disease, which affects one in 125 babies.

She said: "Whilst the surgical care in Scotland is excellent, allowing most patients to survive into adulthood, there are gaps in care.

"Scotland is facing an acute shortage of specialists in congenital heart disease.

"More importantly perhaps, there is a need for improved psychological support. I was never offered any help to deal with my diagnosis. It was left to my family and close friends to pick up the pieces."

Ms Wilson had years of high blood pressure readings before she was sent for urgent tests after moving to a new GP when she turned 30.

A specialist discovered that her aorta, the main artery that takes blood from the heart around the body, had been almost entirely blocked off since birth.

She underwent eight hours of open heart surgery at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and faces a further operation in the future because a section of her aorta has grown too big and has formed an aneurysm which will need to be removed if it reaches a certain diameter.

She said: "I don't know what the future holds for me but neither does anyone else. My condition is life-threatening but it is known. I am fit and love to run and you would not know there is anything wrong with me without the pictures of an MRI scan.

"When I look at my scar, almost 10 years on, I give thanks for the NHS and the incredible skill of my surgeon Mr Jim Pollock."

The Scarred FOR Life exhibition will be open from February 13 to March 13.