A County Durham teenager who collapsed on the football field has marked four years since she had a ''lifesaving' transplant.

Kayleigh Llewellyn, 16, was just 12 years old in 2019 when she fell down during a match of football and required urgent medical attention. 

Despite the complex medical procedures, diagnosis, and the transplant itself, she has now marked four years since the transplant operation and has even competed in the British Transplant Games.

The Northern Echo: Kayleigh Sidney, 16, with her dad Shaun, 54Kayleigh Sidney, 16, with her dad Shaun, 54 (Image: FAMILY)

Her dad Shaun, 54, who works as an onsite forklift truck trainer and kiln operator at Taylormade Timber Products in Sherburn Hill, has opened up about the 'terrifying' moment that his daughter collapsed, and the "two years of hell" that followed. 

He said: "My family and I went through a terrible experience in 2019 when my daughter Kayleigh collapsed playing football when she was only 12.

"What ensued was two years of hell as doctors discovered she suffered cardiomyopathy and she needed a heart transplant thankfully successfully undertaken at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.”

Mr Sidney has also laid bare the emotional impact that an incident of this kind had on his family, his work life and every other aspect of his life. 

He added: "We went from day to day with an ever-changing picture.

"In the end, Kayleigh came through it and competed in this year’s British Transplant Games in Coventry which was amazing as it brought us together with her donor's family, an incredibly moving experience for all of us.

“But it also got me thinking about the amount of strain the family and I had been under." 

Despite the years of trauma for the Sidney family, a positive was born out of the situation, with Shaun now becoming a 'ManBassador' at his workplace; helping others deal with stress and trauma.

The Northern Echo: Sonia Llewellyn (centre) with daughter Kayleigh (right)Sonia Llewellyn (centre) with daughter Kayleigh (right) (Image: FAMILY)

The ManBassador programme was launched last year in light of the need for emotional and psychological support given the shocking figures relating to stress and the resulting impacts of depression, and, in some cases suicide.

Shaun and a colleague are the ManBassadors responsible for 157 employees on-site in Durham.

Mr Sidney added: “I now have first-hand experience of dealing with trauma and how this impacts every part of your life including work.

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"Fortunately for me my employer was incredibly supportive at what was for everyone in our family the worst time in our lives, I also had the support of friends and wider family members.

"It got me thinking what if I didn’t have that kind of support? Also, you never know the stresses and strains people you work with can be faced with.  

“Since launching the programme in the summer this year my colleague and I have had more than 10 people reach out and we’ve been able to signpost and ensure issues are being properly listened to and flagged. I’m now taking an additional course in self-harm and suicide prevention.”