Heart Appeal

You can create the vital connections that will save lives.

Jesica's second surgery, before turning 3

Jessica Manning is one of the many New Zealanders who owe their lives to people who donated to cardiovascular research in the past, and made life-saving connections between researchers, clinicians and patients possible.

She was born in the early 1990s with double hypoplastic right heart syndrome and leaky valves. Six heart defects in total.

She had her first life-saving surgery when she was just five months old, followed by a second before she turned three, and a third when she was six.

My mum found out when I was three days old that I had one of my heart defects. It took five months to diagnose me with all six.

Jessica Manning

Jessica then lived a relatively normal life until she was 18, when she underwent surgery to fix a widened aorta. Her doctors even fitted a pacemaker to help her heart function.

Jessica spent her 19th birthday in hospital and then went into heart failure. And she got sicker and sicker.

At a time where her friends were going to university, partying, and starting their adult lives, Jessica was struggling to breathe. Even something as simple as having a shower was so exhausting that she had to sit in a chair to do it.

By the time Jessica was 22, she needed a heart and liver transplant.

After lung surgery, age 18.

Only three people in Aotearoa had had this double transplant before her, and none of them had a history of heart disease. But Jessica was now terminally ill. Without the surgery, she would die.

Even after she had the transplant, Jessica’s life hung in the balance. At one stage during her recovery, she had a cardiac arrest and Jessica’s surgeon had to open her chest and manually massage her heart for 20 minutes.

It took Jessica months to recover from her transplant.

My heart was barely functioning. I was sleeping 20 hours a day. I was puffed out and faint all the time. I was too sick to do anything.


But when you look at the vibrant and healthy woman she is today, it’s hard to believe she almost died from cardiovascular disease just a few short years ago.

Advances in cardiovascular research meant that Jessica survived – and is now living a life she loves.

Jessica, aged 26, a few months out from celebrating 2 years post the transplants

If I was born with this heart condition 20 years before, I wouldn’t have survived. That’s why research is important.


A new treatment for heart failure

As Jessica’s story shows, heart failure is a condition that grows progressively worse over time. Currently, there is no cure.

Your generous gift could change that. Researchers at Manaaki Mānawa have developed a new form of cardiac pacemaker that’s been reversing heart failure in pre-clinical trials.

Your support can help this research proceed to clinical trials, which could transform the way heart failure is treated or cured in years to come.

Unlocking the genetics of heart disease

Professor Julian Patton

Understanding more about why New Zealanders like Jessica Manning are born with cardiovascular disease is a key focus of our work at Manaaki Mānawa.

Your support will fund life-saving projects such as our life-saving Cardiac Inherited Disease Registry, which connects genetic researchers with people who have or are at risk of cardiac inherited disease to study the mutations driving these conditions, and find new ways of preventing, diagnosing and treating them.