A BRAVE young mum who is "lucky to be alive" has inspired her family to help others with congenital heart disease.
Jo-anne Pottle (26), of Elvington in Springwood, Gaywood, was diagnosed at 18 months and is waiting to receive open heart surgery to improve her quality of life.
Mrs Pottle, mum to Riley (2), suffers from three heart conditions and her health has steadily deteriorated over the last few months, making it difficult for her to move around and care for her son.
She has Ebstein's Anomaly, with one of her heart valves in the wrong place, and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, which makes her heart beat faster than it should.
The third condition, atrial septal defect, reduces the amount of oxygen in her blood, leaving her breathless and lethargic.
Mrs Pottle was shocked to last year learn most sufferers only lived to their teens and is working with her family to raise awareness of the growing number of adults with congenital (from birth) heart conditions.
Her husband Richard and his brother Wayne are cycling around 360 miles from Lands End to Lynn in August to raise money for the Grown Up Congenital Heart Patients' Association (GUCH).
And now her mum, Susan Barker, is also getting involved, holding a fundraising bingo in Tilney St Lawrence tomorrow night.
Mrs Pottle told the Lynn News: "After I had Riley, things got a lot worse because of the pressure it put on my heart. At the moment I really can't do a lot at all. I have no energy and I can't run around or even look after my little boy."
Mrs Pottle is on the waiting list for an operation at London's Heart Hospital to correct the defect and repair her heart valve.
It is hoped the surgery, expected to last around six hours, will improve the flow of oxygen around her body and help her lead a more active life.
She said: "I'm looking forward to being able to play football with my son, he's football mad."
Mrs Barker, of South Lynn, said: "The consultant said she was lucky to still be alive because people don't usually last that long, but that was something we were never told. It's very hard to see her like this.
"The operation has only been done for the last couple of years. They said they can probably repair the valve, but we don't know how long it will last."
Mrs Pottle, who attended Park High School, Gaywood, was a very active child, enjoying sports such as rugby and karate.
She suffered serious heart problems when she hit puberty but had been well again up until the last few years, when she realised things were not right.
Mr Pottle (28) gave up work at Lynn recycling centre in January to care for his family and fits his cycle training around his responsibilities at home.
"His training is going OK, but it's difficult at the moment because he has to look after me," Mrs Pottle added.
Mrs Barker hopes the charity bingo will raise awareness and help others in her daughter's situation. She said: “Jo-anne’s lucky in some ways because she’s got people to lean on and talk to, but maybe there are people people out there who don’t.”
n The bingo is being held at Tilney St Lawrence Village Hall from 7.15pm tomorrow and everyone is welcome to attend
n To sponsor Richard and Wayne, call 07940 474843 or click on www.justgiving.com/
n Find out more about GUCH at www.guch.org.uk