Alex Holland

Nelson's Brave Heart

For most people over the age of 10, the average resting rate for a heartbeat is between 60-100 beats per minute (bpm). For 12 year old Alex Holland, it is an astounding 32bpm.

Born with a condition called blocked heart, in laypersons terms it meant the top part of her heart did not work with the bottom half. Doctors initially thought she’d grow out of it, and the heart would mend itself. But when she was about 2.5yrs it started affecting her life. “She was a really busy and outgoing young toddler, Angela explains, and suddenly her heart couldn’t cope and she started fainting. That’s when we knew something had to happen.”

Alex had a pacemaker fitted into her stomach at the tender age of just 3 years old. Since then she’s had another surgery to change the battery when she was 9yrs and she’s not not due for another battery change for about 6 years.

Apart from the scars on her chest, and the fact she doesn’t have the fitness levels of some other youngsters her age, you couldn’t really tell there’s anything wrong with the young Nelson girl. “She plays netball and is a pretty tough cookie, no one treats her differently”, explains Angela.

The only battle Alex’s parents have with this brave heart is the battle to wear her medic alert bracelet. “She hates wearing it and we often find it on her bed or lying down on a bench and have to tell her to put it on”, laughs Angela. They have come up with a novel way to disguise it on the netball court though. We’ve got a sweatband that covers it, and it has an embroidered medic alert emblem on it.