Big 50th birthday bash for ‘Sweet Caroline’

Caroline Artt wasn’t supposed to reach her first birthday but despite everything she recently celebrated reaching 50 with a party for family and friends in Castledawson.

The Magherafelt woman has Down’s Syndrome and her birthday was on March 21, which has been assigned as World Down Syndrome day.

Her mum Sheila said: “Many times during her early years it was touch and go, but she is a true warrior with a very positive attitude.

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“Caroline has a serious congenital heart condition which caused her to develop pulmonary hypertension, a life-limiting disease. Under the care of The Royal Victoria in Belfast and Royal Papworth hospital in Cambridge, she has recieved outstanding care and the latest medication for pulmonary hypertension (PH).”

Caroline Artt who celebrated her 50th birthday.

In lieu of gifts, the family organised a fund-raising party for the charity PHA-UK. This is a little known charity as there are only about 7,000 patients with the condition in the whole of the UK.

Over the years PHA-UK has helped Caroline and kept her parents up-to-date with all the latest news, research and medications of this disease.

“We raised a total of £1,310. This amount will be a great boost for the charity. Everyone had a great night and are still talking about it,” she said.

Caroline has two brothers, three nephews and one niece who all adore her and she loves to be the centre of attention.

Birthday girl Caroline Artt.

She uses oxygen at nights while she sleeps and besides other necessary pills, she uses an nebulizer to inhale the drug, Iloprost. She uses it seven times daily and it is a very important part of her regime as it opens up the blood vessels in her lungs to allow more oxygen to circulate.

“PHA-UK informed us of this treatment and she was recommended to use it under the guidance of The Royal Papworth hospital in Cambridge. She attends Papworth for annual reviews.

“Her last review was in August last year. The team there were very pleased with her stable condition and amazed by her reaching 50,” continued Sheila.

“At present, she has lost most of her hair to alopecia, hence the need for hats. Caroline is very sociable and is quite bright with excellent communication skills.

On the dance floor at the birthday party.

“Her sense of humour is amazing and has come up with many ‘famous’ antics. The most renowned is many years ago when she put a puppy in one of the drawers of the bread van. The owner of the pup was mortified that the bread man should steal her pedigree pet.

“It wasn’t until he had travelled around the townland when a customer asked for soda bread that he discovered the pup in that drawer!”

Caroline loves music, especially singing. She gave a very good rendition of ‘The Galway Shawl’ at her party in Moyola Park Golf Club, Castledawson, for which she recieved a tremendous applaud. This song was a tribute to her late cousin, who also had Down’s and his late dad. According to Caroline this was their favourite song.

She believes Neil Diamond wrote ‘Sweet Caroline’ especially for her. Other favourite artistes include Daniel O’Donnell and Jason Carter.

Caroline’s main hobby is knitting squares to make blankets for the ‘poor children in the world’ (her words).

She also watches her favourite DVDs and of course most of the soaps on TV. For health reasons she keeps herself fit by using an exercise bike and walks twice around the house every day.

According to Sheila she was once a wonderful dancer, but the exertion is too much for her now.

“She can still give a good performance without moving too much with her great sense of rythym,” she said.

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