Heather Makris’ inspirational fight for life

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Birdwood High School principal Heather Makris, 45, is grateful each day she gets to follow her passion and inspire a new generation.

As a young mum in 2001, she was diagnosed with meningitis after falling unconscious while at home alone with her two then babies, daughter, Eleni-Nicole, aged 18 months and son, Peter, aged six months.

In the two decades that have followed, her children and husband, Michael, have been told to prepare for the worst several times, as the initial illness gave rise to a series of debilitating and life-threatening conditions that destroyed her liver.

In 2016, Ms Makris was placed on life support when she developed septicaemia after a routine operation, one of 25 she has endured. She was told she would need a liver transplant with “the call” coming late in 2019, as she fought to keep her school community safe from the bushfires.

“I didn’t sleep that (transplant eve) night, I put pen to paper and wrote a letter to my donor family because I knew that although we were now elated and hopeful, they were going through heartache and sorrow … I will be forever grateful for their kindness and generosity,” she said.

“I vowed and promised that I would do everything I possibly could to ensure their gift of life to me would make a difference.

“I could not imagine not working, not being around children and young people … for me it is a blessing. I love going to work, I love what each day brings.”

Remarkably, despite the health challenges which she largely kept to herself, Ms Makris has held senior education roles in SA, including at Charles Campbell and Glenunga high schools and delivering education reform within the department.

“I would put on my makeup every morning and I would feel fabulous … I knew that I had a calling to inspire people to believe in themselves, that it doesn’t matter what people tell you, you can tread towards your goals with fierce determination and it doesn’t matter how difficult they appear, you can actually make the impossible possible,” she said.

Ms Makris, now doing well, is the brainchild behind the annual South Australian Amazing Race for Donate Life to raise awareness for organ donations, postponed by lockdown.

To register as an organ and tissue donor, go to donatelife.gov.au/join-register

Source: Adelaide Now

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