For four months Bec Craven knew something was wrong.
What started as a cold, became pneumonia and before long she couldn’t walk or breathe.
It took collapsing at work to finally get an answer from doctors.
‘They just said ”you have chronic heart failure, this is pretty bad. You’re lucky you came in now because you could have just dropped dead.” I was 24,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The main pumping part of my heart was down to 11% – so I was dying.’
Bec Craven, 28, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy after got sick with a mystery virus while holidaying in Bali four years ago
It took four months of progressively worse symptoms before the Gold Coast resident received the correct diagnosis
On her Instagram account, Bec regularly shows comparisons of her physical recovery since the surgery
Bec, who lives on Queensland’s Gold Coast, had cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle condition makes it hard for the heart to deliver blood to the body.
It started on a holiday to Bali in 2014 where she contracted a mystery virus that never went away.
‘I just got a cold, like a common cold and didn’t think very much of it. And everyone kind of gets unwell when they go over there,’ she said.
‘And over the next four months it just got worse and there was more symptoms adding to it.’
When she collapsed and finally received the correct diagnosis, the prognosis was grim.
First prescribed was medication to cease her heart failure. When that stopped working doctors suggested a transplant.
For almost a year Bec was on the transplant list, for eight months of this time she had a surgically fitted mechanical heart
‘They said to me, ”we don’t think that you’re going to last two weeks without a heart transplant”. No one knew if I was going to survive the wait,’ she told Daily Mail Australia of her pre-transplant prognosis
Since becoming a recipient of a new heart, Bec has used her platform as a model and Instagrammer to bring awareness to the cause
‘I didn’t want a transplant, I didn’t think that was ever going to happen to me because I just felt like I had so much to do with my life and I just never expected to get so unwell.
‘But when they said yes we need to do the work for a transplant and put you on a list, I just thought how am I 25 and need a new heart?’
Although uncomfortable, the mechanical heart (pictured) saved her life
For most of the arduous nine-month wait for the transplant, Bec had a surgically fitted mechanical heart which was wired through her stomach and powered by a battery outside of her body.
The device was uncomfortable but it saved her life.
‘They said to me, ”we don’t think that you’re going to last two weeks without a heart transplant”. No one knew if I was going to survive the wait.’
Finally, while at the hospital, Bec got the news she had been waiting for.
‘I thought it was a dream. For eight months you’re waiting for an organ, waiting for a phone call and you don’t know when it’s coming.
‘It’s something that I thought about and dreamed about every day.’
Bec’s transplant surgery took twelve hours. Afterwards her kidneys shut off and she needed dialysis.
Two years later, while well on the road to recovery, Bec said the trauma of her health battles have at times led to anxiety and depression.
While the heart transplant took twelve hours, she says one of the hardest parts of recovery was the mental aspect
‘You really can’t prepare for (life after surgery). The first year is the hardest, knowing that anything can go wrong or how your body can reject the organ,’ she said.
‘It made me grow up, a lot. When I was 25 I had to get my affairs in order, do a will and a power of attorney and make sure it was in order because I didn’t know if I was going to live.’
Now 28 and back modelling, Bec says although forever changed by her experiences, she hopes to share her story through public speaking and her motivational Instagram account.
‘I just look a life differently, I don’t take anything for granted, every little thing is amazing and so is everyone around you,’ she said.
You make sure you tell them that you love them all the time. The little things.’
‘I just look a life differently, I don’t take anything for granted,’ she says of her outlook post-surgery