A COURAGEOUS teenager who underwent a successful heart transplant is hoping to return to school next term.

Emily Linaker, 14, of Manor Close, Hoghton, came through the high-risk procedure in November, despite only being given a five per cent chance of survival.

She has since been attending the St Thomas Centre, a special needs school in Blackburn, but hopes to return to St Bede’s High School in September.

Mum Sam, 48, said she feels ‘incredibly lucky’ for Emily to have come this far, as new figures released for National Transplant Week showed 21 Lancashire residents died due to a shortage of organ donors last year.

Sam added: “Emily is almost eight months post-transplant now, and I still think of her donor and her family every day.

“What they did for Em is priceless and the most selfless thing anyone could do.

“Without their kindness she wouldn’t be alive, never mind having a great future to look forward to.

“We feel incredibly lucky and grateful to have her.

“If there was one thing to come out of all this, it would be our wish that more people would think about going on to the donor register and tell their families their wishes.

“Sadly, a huge number of lives could be saved if only we talked about this topic.

“Some of the beautiful young children that were with us and waiting for their new hearts alongside Emily, are no longer with us.

“It might seem strange to discuss what you want to happen to you after you have died, but at least everyone knows your wishes should it happen.

No one can ask you after.”

Emily, who is planning to attend the British Transplant Games in Bolton next month, is still restricted by some nerve pain in her leg, due to the surgery, but said ‘one of the best things is not having to think about my next breath’.

She is also looking forward to seeing her old friends at St Bede’s, providing she is successful in getting an assisted place.

The NHS Blood and Transplant service said there are currently 284 people in Lancashire waiting for a transplant.

Sally Johnson, director of organ donation, said: “We know that families are much less likely to allow organ donation to go ahead if they don’t know it’s what their loved one wanted.

“To help more people we need everyone, even if you’re one of the 446,144 people on the NHS Organ Donor Register in Lancashire, to tell those closest to you that you want to donate your organs.

“Please have the conversation and spell it out.”

For more details see www.transplantweek.co.uk