A brave teen has climbed the third highest mountain in Britain – just six weeks after undergoing open heart surgery.
Harvey Ackerley, 15, hiked the 3,409ft Mount Snowdown less than two months after recovering from the seven-and-a-half hour operation to repair two holes in his heart.
The teenager was rushed to hospital last year with a burst appendix, but tests revealed that he had two holes in his heart that had previously been undetected.
He underwent major surgery on August 4 this year, which involved cutting into his chest and removing his heart to repair the holes, leaving him with a seven inch scar.
But just six weeks after being under the surgeon’s knife, Harvey completed the hike along with his mum Gemma, dad Gary and their golden retrievers Max and Enzo.
Harvey said: “One the way down, I thought ‘I’ve just done that so soon after heart surgery.
“It felt like it has been a big achievement after spending a week in hospital to climb a mountain six weeks later.”
Harvey, from Warrington, Cheshire, was rushed to hospital in July 2019 when a burst appendix caused a bout of vomiting and caused him to pass out.
During his stay in hospital, medics noticed an abnormality on an ECG, a test that checks the heart’s rhythm and electrical activity.
After recovering from his appendix surgery, he was transported from Warrington Hospital to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool more tests revealed two holes in his heart.
Doctors believed the findings would put Harvey at risk of a heart attack before the age of 25.
It came as a “total shock” to his family as the talented footballer had previously been super fit and showed no signs of a heart condition.
Gemma, a client director at a tv production company, said: “All his coaches have always said he’s the fittest in the team, they were shocked that he had any heart defects.”
Harvey’s charity climb up Snowdon has helped raise more than £7,000 for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital so far.
He said: “Climbing the mountain and fundraising was my way to give back to Alder Hey.
“It was quite a stressful time, you don’t expect to end up needing heart surgery when you burst your appendix.
“I didn’t really talk about it at the time as I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me.
“The doctors were really calm and confident when they were talking to me, but when they were discussing the consent forms, they explained what the risks were.
“Your brain goes through so many emotions when you know you’re having such a major operation like that. I was worried that I could die in theatre.
“Every twinge before the operation I was so scared thinking it was my heart.”
Now he is looking forward to getting his boots back on and taking to the football pitch again.
He added: “I have to stay under the care of the hospital for the next three years, I have to go for check ups every six months, just to make sure everything is working fine.
“They said I can play football again in the next few weeks as long as I don’t overdo it.
“I have played nearly all my life and we play at a good level in the Liverpool league, I can’t wait to get back into it.”
His friends and family also got involved with fundraising as his younger sister Sienna, 12, ran 5km every day during lockdown.
And her twin Gabriella has designed special t-shirts which will be released once they reach their £10,000 goal.
Proud mum Gemma, 38, said: “He’s such an incredible young man.
“He’s so mature and has been taking everything in his stride – everyone who meets him falls in love with him.
“It’s such a hard thing for anyone to do, let alone someone fresh out of open heart surgery, he did amazingly. We’re so proud of him.
“Over the last 12 months, he’s been so brave. We call him our Superman.
“The donations have come from far and wide and many people we don’t even know, the support has been amazing.
“I don’t know what we would have done without our family and friends, and all my clients at work who have continued to send lots of amazing messages of support.”
Visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harvey-ackerley1heart to donate to Harvey’s fundraising efforts.