‘I’m a super-fit gym-goer with just half a heart – here’s how I do it’

When Amy Roberts was born with only half a working heart, she was not expected to survive.

Doctors had advised her parents to terminate the pregnancy at 20 weeks after discovering the complicated condition. But they refused, wanting to give their unborn child a fighting chance.

Amy went through three open heart surgeries as a child, and the risk has paid off.

At the age of 22 she has become the oldest known living person in the UK with half a heart. And since joining a gym four years ago, her heart function has improved so much she has been told she is unlikely to need a transplant until later in life.

Amy, from Worsley, Greater Manchester, said: « Doctors said that if I survived I would be needing a transplant in my early 20s. But at my last scan they told me my heart function has got better and is much stronger. They said I may not need a heart transplant until my early 40s, which is amazing news. »

She added: « I started working out when I was 18, as I was so weak and ill at that point. At first I couldn’t lift a single weight, but I started off slowly and built myself up. Now I feel great. »

Amy, who lives with parents Helen and Tim, was born with both heart arteries were the wrong way around and she had a double inlet left ventricle.

The very rare defect means the right side of the heart is small and under developed, and the blood supply goes to the left side instead.

It came as a shock to her parents, who already had children Sophie, now 24, and Chris, now 43.

Amy underwent heart surgery at just five days old, with doctors putting a shunt into a main vein to keep her alive.

She then had further complicated operations aged two and seven, to replumb her heart to keep it working. Despite hating PE at school, Amy has embraced a fitness regime to help strengthen her heart.

She said: « Now I train five times a week and I’m a personal trainer. I’m so glad I built up my strength like this – its given me a new lease of life. »

A spokeswoman for Tiny Tickers, a charity for babies with heart conditions, said: « Amy is doing incredibly well. She was not given very good odds of survival. Most patients with this condition don’t survive beyond their teens. »

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