A teenage girl with a hole in her heart has been told she cannot have an operation on the NHS to fix it – unless she has a heart attack.
Carla Maclean, 19, from Abbeydale in Gloucestershire, was told she had a hole in her heart three years ago during a check up.
She suffers from palpitations, breathlessness and headaches and has been off work from her job as an NHS apprentice in graphics and multi-media for two months.
But, despite this, the NHS has refused her an operation, unless she has what they have described as a 'major episode'.
"When we went for the meeting I thought the specialist was going to give me a date for the operation, not tell me I couldn't have it," said Carla.
"The NHS will only fund it if I have a heart attack or a stroke. I'm worried I may drop dead if I exercise or do anything too strenuous.
"I can't work, every time I exercise I feel like someone is punching me in the chest and I've had so many knock-backs I'm on anti-depressants now."
Carla has been told that a private procedure would guarantee her health, but the operation costs £16,000.
She is now writing to her local MP and fundraising in the hope of affording the operation.
An NHS England (Bath, Gloucestershire, Swindon and Wiltshire) spokesperson told the Gloucester Citizen: "Patent Foramen Ovale closure [Carla's defect] is not routinely commissioned by the NHS and would only be considered if the case is deemed exceptional by the individual's clinician. NHS England have not received an application regarding this case.
"This procedure is part of the Commissioning through Evaluation scheme which is looking at commissioning this procedure as part of a time-limited evaluation exercise.
"A decision on which providers will offer this will be made later this autumn."