Heart transplant recipient Sharon Hoskin reaches milestone

Heart: Sharon Hoskin at work in her new job at Macchia Jewellery in Naracoorte.
Heart: Sharon Hoskin at work in her new job at Macchia Jewellery in Naracoorte.

Twelve months after the most important moment of her life, heart transplant recipient Sharon Hoskin is healthy and happy.

Sharon became Naracoorte's first heart transplant recipient on November 24, 2018, in an emergency operation after suffering 20 years of cardiomyopathy. She will celebrate exactly 12 months since the successful operation this Sunday.

While the past year has been a blur of medical appointments, illnesses and challenges, now with her heart performing strongly, Sharon said she wouldn't trade places with anyone.

"I've got other illnesses but at least I'm still here to whinge about it," she said. "I'm sure my donor would swap places with me in a heartbeat, pardon the pun."

It's been a constant battle for Sharon to keep those "other illnesses" at bay.

She's had weekly blood tests - sometimes twice a week - to monitor her progress, has taken a variety of anti-rejection medications and other drugs to address different conditions, and has developed diabetes because of the medications.

Sunday will represent a big physical and mental milestone in Sharon's journey.

I sometimes wake up thinking I'm attached to a heart monitor, all these sorts of things

Sharon Hoskin

Her 12-month biopsy has been done this week, as part of a day of "test after test" including an angiogram, bone density scan, echocardiogram, blood tests and even a dermatology assessment.

Having become accustomed to a treadmill of tests, they don't concern Sharon, but she's been surprised at the mental impact the anniversary has had.

"It's bringing up all the emotions from 12 months ago that I haven't had the chance to experience, because it all happened so quickly," she observed.

"I sometimes wake up thinking I'm attached to a heart monitor, all these sorts of things.

"(However), I'm absolutely positive about it, very emotional but very euphoric, grateful and thankful."

Sharon said she was learning new things about herself all the time, with her recent involvement in a DonateLife event allowing her to see organ donation from another, less selfish perspective.

"I was closed to the idea of meeting my donor family," she said. "I thought there would be a lot of pressure to live the right life - and I am.

"I've had the walls up, but that was so I didn't reject the heart - you've got to be in the right frame of mind for it to work.

"I think if they now made contact I would definitely look at it."

When she's been well enough this year, Sharon has tried to promote organ donation as much as possible. She played a key role in organising a successful awareness day when Naracoorte hosted Kybybolite in KNTFL football and netball in July.

She also had the honour of being the speaker on behalf of organ recipients at the recent DonateLife rose planting ceremony.

Other than that, she's spent her time at home with husband Chris, recovering and enjoying the quiet life.

"I've been too sick to do anything else, but now I'm back at work and feeling amazing," she said.

"I just want to thank everyone for getting behind me, and they're still getting behind me. I'm still having people coming up and hugging me and saying 'I read about you in the Herald'."

Heart: Sharon Hoskin at work in her new job at Macchia Jewellery in Naracoorte.

Heart: Sharon Hoskin at work in her new job at Macchia Jewellery in Naracoorte.