Lindsay Jarrett is climbing her way to beating Alpha-1
A BATTLING woman given a year to live seven years ago is still going strong – thanks to her love of mountaineering.
Expert climber Lindsay Jarrett was in the prime of her life when she received a shock diagnosis that would change her life forever.
Specialists diagnosed the 44-year-old with Alpha-1, a rare condition which means she is only able to use 20% of her lung capacity.
She was told she would die without an urgent organ transplant.
Yet courageous Lindsay is still going strong today – so much so she’s preparing to stand in next May’s Scottish Parliament elections – and credits her love of the mountains with helping her defy medical opinion.
The mum-of-five, whose children all share the genetic condition, has been through some terrifying lows since the fateful day she was told she could die.
But she insists the thrilling high she experiences when she stands at the summit of a cloud-skimming mountain is enough to power her will to live.
“I would be dead by now if I didn’t climb,” said the adrenaline junkie, who has to battle up cliffs with the aid of a specially adapted oxygen tank due to her cruel condition.
“I treat my body like a machine, but I love the mountains. What I do gives me a positive mindset that keeps me going.”
Experts believe keeping physically fit and having a passion are crucial and can aid patients suffering from a wide variety of conditions.
Now Lindsay, a former police officer, is seeking out a fresh thrill as a candidate for Solidarity in the Holyrood elections.
Explaining why she is now following a political career, she said: “I want to leave Scotland a better place for my children.
“It will be possible that they will be disabled later on and will have needs. This is about their future.”
Lindsay, however, must juggle her political aspirations with an on-going wait for a lung transplant.
She removed herself from the donor register last year – to climb and raise awareness of her condition.
However, doctors have since told her it may be too risky to put her back on the transplant waiting list.
They are worried Lindsay who, on top of her lung condition, also suffers from a number of severe allergies, could have a dangerous reaction to surgical instruments – or even rubber gloves.
There is a risk she could be thrown into anaphylactic shock – an extreme and potentially deadly reaction – during the operation.
“They have said I may never be able to have a transplant because my allergies could lead to anaphylaxis,” she said.
“If they go to operate, it could be the instruments or the rubber gloves or something else will put me into shock.
“I could be allergic to anything or everything.”
Lindsay now faces an agonising wait for test results to be analysed by an immunologist to find out what she is allergic to. Only then will she be considered for a transplant.
She said: “The surgeons say they will not risk it unless they have expert advice saying it will not kill me.”
And even if she is accepted for surgery, doctors will have to make a decision on whether she is strong enough.
“It is a waiting game,” said Lindsay, mum to Ciara, 21, Jemma, 19, Mia, 11, Rory, eight and Findlay, seven. “It could be a week, it could be a year. There is no way of telling.”
Last year, and with an oxygen pack strapped to her back, she scaled some of the highest peaks in Scotland, England and Wales.
Now the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team have built a special buggy to help take her off-road to peaks she’d never have been able to access in the past.
Lindsay, who started climbing aged seven, said: “My consultant, Dr Brian Tregaskis, who is also their doctor, made a promise to my dad that he would look after me.
“My dad, Fred, died of cancer in 2003, aged 63.
“The mountain rescue boys visited me in hospital recently and said they had bought me a contraption they called a ‘stroller’.
“It will help me get off-road and keep strong in order to maximise the lung capacity I have left.”
Lindsay made headlines by climbing up the dangerous, craggy face of Edinburgh Castle to unfurl a Yes banner at the height of the independence referendum debate.
The stunt won the staunch indie campaigner a great deal of publicity and she was invited to speak at rallies and was chosen as the Solidarity Highlands and Islands coordinator.
Asked about her chances of taking a seat at Holyrood next year, Lindsay replied: “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
But she admitted she would love to “shake up” politics, adding: “There are too many career politicians and we have a real and dire need for real people.
“As a mum and a disabled person, I have experienced what vulnerable people are living through and have the passion and guts to fight for what is right.”
Last night Dr Tregaskis described Lindsay as an “inspiration.”