Tributes after tragic death of heart transplant teen

Kirsty Clarke received a heart transplant almost eight years ago

Kirsty Clarke received a heart transplant almost eight years ago

WARM tributes have been paid to “brave and inspirational” Kirsty Clarke who died suddenly this week just days before her 19th birthday.
The 18-year-old took ill at her home at Nutfield Road, Carnthrone in Lisnaskea on Monday morning but despite the best efforts of doctors, she tragically passed away from complications she had experienced over recent months following a heart transplant.
Kirsty was a former pupil of Moat Primary School, the former Lisnaskea High School, Erne Integrated College (EIC) and the South West College.
She was one of the first children in Fermanagh to receive a heart transplant. Her surgery on March 13th, 2009 at Freemans Hospital in Newcastle followed a world-wide search for a suitable heart. She first became ill in 2008 when it was discovered that a virus had attacked the left side of her heart meaning only 25 – 30% of it functioned. Since then both she and family had been advocates of organ donation after her transplant gave her a “new lease of life”.
One of the charities the family supported was Heartbeat NI, which said it was “totally devastated” at the loss of Kirsty.
Jimmy Jackson-Ware, Principal of her former school, EIC, where Kirsty’s sister Zara is a Year 12 student told the Herald: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Clarke and Graham families at this difficult time and we will do our best to support them.
Kirsty was well-regarded by pupils and staff here as a lovely girl who had been through a lot in her short life.”
Family and friends also took to Facebook to express their sorrow at the loss of “a beautiful, lovely and friendly girl”. Among those paying tribute was Frederick Parkinson who wrote: “Kirsty’s battle to live (something which so many of us take for granted) has come to an end but her courage, fighting spirit and willingness to help others will be the legacy which so many will remember her for.”
The timing of her loss comes as her family today (Wednesday) mark 32 years since the murder of her grandfather James (Jimmy) Graham, a school bus driver who was shot by the IRA in Derrylin on 1st February 1985 as he took children to a swimming pool.
Kirsty, who would have turned 19 on February 18th, is survived by her parents Sharon and Alan, sister Zara, grandmother Lily Graham, aunt and uncles. Her funeral will take place tomorrow (Thursday) at 2pm in Aghavea Parish Church followed by interment in the adjoining churchyard.

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