Brave Kelly dies at just 20
Aug 1 2008 by Andrew Hirst, Huddersfield Daily Examiner
HUDDERSFIELD is mourning the loss of one of its most inspirational young people.
Twenty-year-old Kelly Wood had a heart transplant when she was just nine months old – but went on to win athletics medals at national level.
The inspirational young woman from Deighton died a few days after suffering from heart problems.
Her grieving grandfather, Martin Wood, said: “She made a lot of friends and she was very popular. Twenty years old is too young to die.”
‘Kelly was very popular and had an infectious personality’
HUDDERSFIELD woman Kelly Wood – one of the youngest people in the UK ever to have heart transplant surgery – has died.
Kelly, 20, of Deighton, had the major life-saving operation when she was just nine months old.
She then went on to achieve acclaim as a national transplant athlete, winning many medals.
Her grandad, Martin Wood, said: “Kelly was very popular and she had an infectious personality.”
She was born at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in January, 1988. Doctors discovered she had an irregular heartbeat when she was just two days old.
Tests confirmed that Kelly had Noonan’s Syndrome, an extremely rare condition which affects just one baby in tens of thousands.
At first Kelly’s family was told she had just weeks to live.
But in October, 1988, when she was just nine months old she had a heart transplant at Brompton Hospital in London.
Kelly’s young parents, Tracey Wood and Phil Condon, separated because of the stress of the illness and the little girl was raised by her grandparents, Martin and Carol, in Fartown.
Kelly went to Lydgate Special School in New Mill and became involved in sport.
In 1998 she won bronze medals in running and tug-of-war at the British Transplant Games in Belfast.
Four years later in Loughborough she won gold, silver and bronze medals.
Martin said: “She enjoyed athletics, but when she got to 18 she didn’t want to do it anymore – I’m not sure why.”
Kelly went on to attend Huddersfield Technical College and enjoyed socialising with her friends.
Martin said: “She used to love going to Livingstone’s at the weekend. She made a lot of friends and she was very popular.”
But it wasn’t easy living with her condition.
Martin said: “Kelly just wanted to be a regular girl. She had her low moments. At times she wasn’t happy that she had to take anti-rejection drugs every day.”
Kelly also had to have regular tests at Leeds Children’s Cardiac Centre and visited Harefields Hospital in Hertfordshire once a year for a check-up.
Kelly and her grandparents only recently moved to a bungalow in Deighton.
On July 15 she was admitted to the Royal Calderdale Hospital in Halifax with chest pains.
Martin said: “She had a blood test which showed she had suffered a heart attack.”
By July 19 Kelly’s conditioned had deteriorated alarmingly.
Martin said: “She was gravely sick. She was icy cold and her lips were blue.”
Kelly was transferred for specialist treatment to Harefields where she was immediately placed in intensive care.
Martin said: “She was placed on a life support machine and she battled and battled, but she passed away on Monday evening.
“Twenty years old is too young to die.”
Kelly’s funeral takes place at Christ Church Woodhouse at 11am next Thursday.
Martin said: “She had so many friends and they’re all welcome to come, but I would ask them not to wear black.
“Kelly wouldn’t have wanted that.”