Bearsden woman gets a new lease of life after heart transplant

suzanne swinson
suzanne swinson

A woman who made a miraculous recovery after having a heart transplant just two years ago is back on the ski slopes again and walking hills.

Suzanne Swinson (60), who has lived in Bearsden for over 20 years, went hillwalking almost every weekend before her life-saving operation and she led walks with Milngavie and Bearsden ramblers and Glasgow HF outdoor club.

Since her transplant she has managed to become fit enough to climb Ben Ledi, ski and go on a short walk or to the gym at the Allander Leisure centre most days.

In 2008 Suzanne was told the devastating news that she had advanced heart failure, when she was only 55.

At first she didn’t believe the diagnosis because she felt perfectly healthy - the only reason she’d visited her GP was because she had a cough.

Suzanne, who is married with two grown up sons, said: “I expected to be sent away with a course of antibiotics but my doctor referred me to the Western Infirmary for tests.

“Doctors told me that my heart muscle was failing and wasn’t able to pump blood around my body.

“I couldn’t believe it as I felt absolutely fine - I was going to the gym, hillwalking and had no problem climbing stairs.”

However three years later Suzanne’s condition had deteriorated so much that she unable to walk any distance without stopping to rest and spent most of her time in bed.

Eventually she relied on a balloon pump to maintain the beat of her heart and she was placed on the transplant waiting list and within six weeks she was admitted to hospital as a donor was found.

Suzanne added: “I knew the transplant was my only opportunity to carry on living.

“Relief doesn’t really express how I felt but my emotions were conflicting - I was exceptionally upset that a family had lost someone they loved enormously.

“When I was flat on my back in hospital I thought about all the things I had not done yet.

“I never imagined that one day I’d be fit and healthy again.

“I thought I might spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

“It was so exhilirating to reach the top of Ben Ledi year although it took me a long time.

“It was also great to get back on my skis in Austria this year even if I could only manage a few turns on a baby slope.

“I will be forever grateful to my donor.”

Suzanne is hopes to join the British team for skiing at the world winter transplant games in La Chapelle d’Abondance, Haute-Savoie, France next January.

To donate to Suzanne please go to