NATALIE Kerr celebrated her 37th birthday last week – one she never thought she would see.

In fact, Natalie never thought she would see any birthday after the age of 30 because she developed deadly pulmonary hypertension and was given a limited time to live.

She needed a double lung transplant and, six years ago against the odds, she received that transplant and her life began again. Now, at home in Adlington, she has two quests in life: to make her two children proud of her and to raise awareness of organ donation.

All of this, however, was far in the future when Natalie grew up in The Haulgh and Breightmet as part of a loving family. Her father, Eric, worked at Bolton rail station and is now Operations’ Co-ordinator at Longsight. Her Mum, Christine, was a constant and supportive presence in a very happy childhood.

Natalie went to Bolton Parish Primary School and then Roscoe Fold Primary School before Withins High School and Bolton North College, gaining good GCSE’s before leaving at 16.

Always sporty and with a love of dance, Natalie had excellent health all through school and spent her spare time at dance classes or going out dancing socially with friends. “I was always well and always very active,” she recalled.

She had her sights set on a career in nursing and held down part-time jobs at college. She moved to Adlington when she met her future partner and son Brandon was born in 2002.

Natalie kept her nursing dream alive, however, and was accepted on a nursing degree at the University of Salford. Unfortunately, in her early 20s, she began to suffer problems with her breathing and feeling poorly.

Her GP could find nothing wrong but, when she collapsed in 2005, she was sent for hospital tests. Again, they revealed no specific cause.

By now, Natalie had started nursing at the Royal Bolton Hospital – “I really loved nursing, I just loved my job,” she said.

Then, she became pregnant with her second child, Isabelle. When she was just six months pregnant, she was again unwell and doctors feared she had pre-eclampsia – a condition which includes high blood pressure. Specialist tests, though, now revealed she in fact had pulmonary hypertension, a serious condition that can damage the right side of the heart.

“I was really shocked by the diagnosis,” stated Natalie. “But I was very poorly - and I was also in labour."

After being transferred to St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, she gave birth naturally but very prematurely to her daughter.

Back at home and frail, Natalie lived mostly in a wheelchair and on oxygen but her own researches revealed that doctors in America were getting good results for pulmonary hypertension with stem cell treatment.

As this cost £40,000, a high-profile campaign was started which really caught the public’s attention. With the help of a variety of friends and family, the money was raised. Natalie eventually had her treatment and a year of “feeling pretty well”.

But the symptoms returned and Natalie was told that only a double lung transplant would now make any difference. She went onto the transplant list and, very poorly, waited.

“I just wanted to see my children grow up,” she said. “I made a will and plans for not being there. I wanted to live but I just felt so tired.”

Then, a miracle. In 2012, she was told that suitable donor lungs were available and she went into Wythenshawe Hospital for the transplant.

It was a success and, remarkably, she was home within three weeks. “I was just so grateful to the donor’s family and to all the people who had helped me,” said Natalie.

Finally, she was able to play with her children, take them out sledging in the snow – do all the things she had never been able to do before. “I had my life back,” she stated simply, smiling at the memory.

Since then, Natalie has become an active ambassador for organ donation. After her appearance on TV’s Lorraine show, 10,000 people signed up to become organ donors. She has appeared on TV and radio, been featured in newspapers and magazines and given talks to various groups and organisations and primary schools.

Her dream is for a national “opt out” organ donation system and she is “delighted” that the Government is now planning this. “If only people realised just what organ donation means to individuals I am sure they would understand,” she said. “It gave me my life back.”

To find out more about organ donation go to