Emma Anderson has always told her daughter Darcey from a young age about her ‘sore heart’, teaching her daughter what to do if she became ill at home.
Diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy just before she turned 16, Emma’s heart muscle is too thick to function correctly. As a result, she had two monitors fitted which act like constant ECGs, and then an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD). At the start of last year her ICD ‘fired’ three times in the space of two months, meaning her heart had stopped and the ICD ‘shocked’ the heart into restarting.
“I set up Alexa so that if I passed out or was feeling unwell all Darcey had to do was say, ‘Alexa, call for help!’ and Alexa would call my mum who lives around the corner,” said Emma.
“If I exerted myself too much I would pass out. Sometimes even just walking would do it, so I had to use a mobility scooter to pick Darcey up from school, which is only a five-minute walk from my house.
“Darcey’s had to call on Alexa a couple of times, she even called an ambulance on her own and that time I was in a really bad way. I’m so proud of her, she is a wee superstar!”
Darcey stayed calm and composed on both occasions, raising the alarm using Alexa to call for help. Now, after her experience, Emma encourages others to set up an emergency contact using Alexa which may well have allowed Darcey to save her mum’s life.
Setting up an emergency contact with Alexa
You can assign a contact as an emergency contact in the Alexa app. After you select your contact, a message is sent to that number informing the recipient that they've been selected as your emergency contact.
Alexa attempts to call and text your emergency contact when you use any of the following phrases:
- "Call for help."
- "Call my emergency contact."
- "Call my contact for help."
- "Call my help contact."
- "I need help."
If your emergency contact misses your call, your contact can use the Alexa app to call your Echo device.
Emma and her daughter’s ‘new life’
At one of her regular check-ups, Emma was told her condition had deteriorated, that she would need to be kept in hospital, go on the urgent transplant list, and that if she chose to leave she would not live past six months. Last year, Emma was one of 40 people to have a heart transplant in Scotland.
“Since my transplant I have a totally new life. I can actually walk to Darcey’s school and pick her up and walk back again, something I could never do before.
“Over Easter I also managed to take her swimming and to the play park and the farm park. Simple things I wasn’t able to do before, I can do now. I’m able to be a mummy now.”
Following her transplant Emma spent weeks in hospital as a result of complications, but she recovered just in time to marry husband Conner, a mechanic, in July last year, and she is overwhelmingly grateful to her organ donor for the gift of life and making her dream big day come true.
“It’s very difficult to put into words how grateful I am to my donor. It’s horrible to think someone had to lose their life for me to live, but it has given me the chance to get married, see my daughter grow up and be a mum. I was broken thinking I wouldn’t see Darcey go on to secondary school. The chance this person and their family has given me is something my family and I could never repay.”
Jonathan Dalzell, consultant cardiologist and clinical lead of the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service, said: “Emma is now physically able to enjoy motherhood to the full and her daughter, who saved her life twice from the illness that has now been cured, has a mum that is healthier than she has ever known.
“Stories such as Emma’s provide phenomenal motivation and inspiration to all of our team.”