Family and friends fought to save the life of Harsa Parmar when it looked as if her life support machine was going to be turned off.
They carried out their own research to find a way of bringing her back to health, and convinced the medical team looking after her to investigate the possibiity of a transplant. This had previously not been carried out on a patient who was on life support (ECMO).
All their hopes and prayers were answered because six years since that terrible time Harsa is doing well.
She has re-learned to walk, talk and swallow, drive her car, and, much to her delight, began working in the office again in January.
But family and friends haven’t rested since Harsa’s operation. Their mission now is to raise as much money as they can for Papworth Hospital in Cambridge where she had her operation.
There have been sponsored runs; their local pub, The Brickmakers Arms in New Road, Ridgewood, has held fund-raising events, and now a group of cyclists – including Harsa’s Papworth consultant along with two colleagues – are going to cycle from Harsa’s home on the Harlands Estate to Papworth, a distance of 120 miles.
They will set out at 6.30am on Saturday, June 2, and aim to arrive at Papworth that evening.
In the past year, taking account of bike ride sponsorship more than £5,000 has been raised for the hospital which is the country’s main heart and lung transplant centre. Fund-raising in previous years has resulted in a considerable amount of money being donated to Papworth, to help the continuation of research and development and ultimately save lives.
Because of the incredible efforts made to save Harsa’s life she has, with husband Micky, walked her daughter Natasha down the aisle, cuddled her first grandchild 15-month-old Felicity, and seen son Nathan fulfill his dreams of playing in a band.
Harsa moved to the Uckfield area from Birmingham with her family 23 years ago. They came first to Buxted but have lived on the Harlands Estate for 21 years.
Harsa worked for a pre-school in Buxted, then Spire in Uckfield and Badgers before joining her husband at Nikwax Waterproofing at Wadhurst where she works as an administrative assistant in the HR department.
She and her husband are hugely grateful for the support they received from Nikwax during her illness. Micky was given all the time he needed to be with Harsa.
She was taken ill out of the blue on Christmas Eve in 2011 and remembers very little of the following seven months.
But Micky remembers the time all too clearly and, when he took part in the Hastings half marathon, said on his JustGiving page:
“Five years ago my beautiful wife and wonderful mother Harsa, totally out of the blue, fell very ill.
“After spending time in Eastbourne hospital she was put into an induced coma and transported to St Thomas’ Hospital in London where she was put on a life-support system called ECMO.
“After a few weeks on ECMO and much hard work by the doctors and staff they gave us the devastating news that there was no more that they could do for Harsa.
“This news shook us to our core and we didn’t know what to do – what we did know was that there was no way that we would accept this decision and proceeded to find a solution.
“It was through our research that we suggested to the doctors at St Thomas’ that a transplant was something that they should consider. They told us that it had never been done before.
“We suggested that they contact Papworth Hospital and with that our saviour and hero Dr Jas Parmar came into our life.
“His parting words after meeting Harsa at St Thomas’ were: “Don’t worry Harsa, everything is going to be OK.” And he was right, miraculously, within a short space of time, Harsa had a donor and underwent a double lung and heart transplant under the skilled hand of surgeon Mr John Dunning.
“Harsa and all of our family and friends think about her donor every day and cherish the life that has been passed on. We will never be able to show enough gratitude and express how thankful we are for the difficult decisions that the family had to make.
“Our aim is twofold – firstly to try and raise as much as we can for Papworth and secondly to heighten the awareness around transplant and how important it is for people to register onto the donor programme.
More recently, and after a couple of beers, a very close friend Tony Barber, whose children Henry and Amelia are Harsa’s God-children, thought about fund-raising and came up with the idea of a 120-mile cycle ride from Uckfield to Papworth.
The next day, he says, after sobering up, he still thought it was a good idea and Harsa, and Micky’s brother-in-law Bharat Mianger, helped form Team Harsa, which will undertaken the challenge on Saturday.
The team includes Bharat and Tony, Robert Webber, the owner of Proper Cycling and Coffee Ross McCracken, and fellow club riders Phil Stevenson, Colin Lee, Richard Townsley, Chris Webb, Stewart Fairs, Nick Moon, Geoff Hook, Mike Bonsor, Matthew Baker and Sally Baldwin.
Harsa’s Papworth Hospital consultant Dr Jas Parmar has also confirmed he will take part along with two of his colleagues. Unfortunately surgeon Mr John Dunning who had hoped to be involved is unable to do so.
Tony says on his fund-raising page:
“Harsa is beautiful inside and out, and is the linchpin within her expanding family and also her extended family of close friends and neighbours.
“She is also very much loved by many Uckfield families from her career within the pre-school community, having seen so many local youngsters grow up to be the young adults they have since become.”
Tony concludes: ”Please support Team Harsa on Saturday, June 2, and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for reading about this special lady and the people behind her.”
Harsa says she is overwhelmed to have so much support from so many people and very grateful to still be alive and able to enjoy her family and friends. She still doesn’t know what caused her illness but said: “How lucky I am to have seen my daughter married, to have met my granddaughter and to have seen my son fulfilling his dreams of being in a band.
“My Donor is at the forefront of my head every single day. I am so thankful to them and their family and will be eternally grateful.”
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