Aged just 11 days old, tiny Liza Paul became the youngest person in Scotland to be fitted with a heart pacemaker.
Now 34 and Dr Liza Morton, the mum has been honoured for her work improving standards of care for heart patients.
Liza was born with congenital heart block as well as a hole in her heart and over the years has had to have 10 pacemakers fitted and undergone surgery several times.
However, she hasn’t let her condition hold her back and instead has built up successful career in psychology and has had an academic paper on the physiological impact of adult congenital heart disease published.
Now she has been named a ‘heart hero’ at the British Heart Foundation Awards, and given the health care professional prize.
Her mum, Liz Paul, nominated her for the award, which Liza knew nothing about until organisers phoned to tell her she was to be honoured.
She said: “I was really surprised to win. The first I knew was when they called last week and asked if I could come down to an awards ceremony in London later that week.
“Unfortunately, it was too short notice for me to get the day off work, so I missed rubbing shoulders with Gabby Logan!”
Liza is a clinical associate of applied psychology at NHS Fife and is keen to improve the emotional support available to those with life-long heart conditions.
She recently submitted a petition to the Scottish Government calling for set standards to be established for the care for adults with congenital heart problems.
She said: “There is a lot of awareness of babies and children born with heart problems, but people seem to forget these heart conditions last a life time and there isn’t enough awareness of support for adults. The standard of care can differ from hospital to hospital and in accident and emergency there often isn’t anyone with a specialised background there to help.
“I went to A&E myself recently as I knew my pacemaker had stopped working. But the heart consultant on shift couldn’t help or diagnose the problem.
“In 2006 England and Wales adopted set standards for caring for adults with congenital heart conditions but six years later Scotland is still waiting for these to be put in place. Living with a heart condition is difficult enough without having to fight the medical system – we need set standards to ensure safety, equity of access and quality of life.”
Public Health Minister and MSP for Falkirk West, Michael Matheson confirmed a petition had been lodged with the public petitions committee. He said: “Heart disease is a clinical priority for NHS Scotland and our ‘Better Heart Disease and Stroke Care Action Plan’ recognises the importance of ensuring people with heart disease have access to the emotional and psychological support they need. The Scottish Government will respond to any questions the committee may have in due course.”