I thought I was just really lazy and loved sleep but after tests on my heart I was finally diagnosed.

When Charlotte Carney complained that chronic fatigue left her needing constant naps, her GP blamed the stress of A-levels.

She duly completed the exams and left for university – but within months she was bed-bound for up to 20 hours a day.

Four years after she first experienced symptoms, tests revealed the true cause – a chronic heart condition that meant she needed a transplant.

Miss Carney finally went under the knife last February, with a matching donor found within three weeks of her joining a transplant list.

The 22-year-old, from Northwich, Cheshire, is now sharing her story to highlight the importance of the organ donor register. Miss Carney said she was given just a 20 per cent chance of surviving beyond two years without a transplant.

‘My quality of life was so poor earlier this year that I don’t think I would have lasted another two years,’ she said. ‘I would only be able to stay awake from 11am until 2pm and even walking a few steps would leave me breathless. The amount of people on the waiting list is endless, I’m just very grateful I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have to wait years for their call.’

Miss Carney said the full extent of her health issues only came to light when, convinced something was wrong with her heart, she sought help from the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young.

It arranged for her to undergo an electrocardiogram (ECG) procedure. This led to a diagnosis of restrictive cardiomyopathy, which leaves the heart unable to effectively pump blood. She was placed on the transplant list three months later. ‘I was dismissed by doctors due to my age in 2013 and I was told my symptoms were due to exam stress,’ she said. ‘But as the years passed, my health continued to decline.

‘I thought I was just really lazy and loved sleep but after tests on my heart I was finally diagnosed. Medication didn’t help and just three months after my diagnosis I was placed on the waiting list for a new heart.

Miss Carney spent four weeks in hospital after the surgery. She must continue to take medication, but said: ‘I don’t need several naps now and finally have my independence back.’

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