A HEARTBROKEN mum from York has paid an emotional tribute to her 27-year-old daughter who died only weeks before Christmas.

Helen Race’s daughter Samantha died on December 16, five days after she had heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary.

Sam, from Bell Farm, had the chromosome abnormality Turner Syndrome and suffered from poor health all her life. She had her first heart surgery at only ten months old and the operation in December was the follow-up to that.

“Sam was born fighting, and she died fighting,” Helen said.

“When a child is born, you look at them and think they are special. Every mother does that. But Sam proved it – she was special. She wasn’t just my daughter, she was my best friend.”

Sam spent her life in and out of hospital with her health problems but despite that she never complained or moaned, Helen said.

“She just accepted that was part of who she was.

“She was such a positive person. When we were told the date of the operation - just before Christmas - they offered to postpone it but Sam said no, she would be fine, and it would mean she could have Christmas off work.” Helen said.

Although the operation went well Sam started to lose a lot of blood, and had to stay in theatre for almost 24 hours.

“She went into theatre on Wednesday morning, and didn’t come out until the early hours of Thursday. When we saw Sam at 6am, she was given three hours to live, but she battled on until the Monday morning when we had to let her go.”

Sam was the assistant manager of the cafe at B & Q Warehouse on Hull Road, where she had worked for ten years, and was such a well-loved face that regular customers have said they want to pay their respects at Sam’s funeral.

Helen said: “The amount of messages and condolences we have had – that’s not something we could have expected. A lot of people have said Sam was a rock for them, and her death has left a hole that can’t be filled.”

Her friends and family have described Sam as a kind, caring and thoughtful person with a smile that would melt hearts, and Karen Duncanson, her manager at B & Q, said she was a loyal friend and colleague who she kept expecting to walk back through the door at any moment.

Helen said: “Sam was such an inspiration. She always saw the good in people, and she was always positive.”

Sam went to school at St Aelred’s and Haxby Road primary schools before going on to Burnholme School. She did a two-year course in performing arts at York College but had to turn down a place at Leicester University because of her health problems.

She was a huge fan of dance group Diversity, and on the day of her pre-operative tests Helen and her partner Keith Taylor surprised Sam with a trip to meet the group in Newcastle. She watched them perform before meeting the dancers and telling them she was going to have a heart operation, but knew she would be fine. 

Helen said: “She just flew through all the pre-op tests because she knew we were going to see Diversity. In her Christmas card she thanked me for the best present ever, and that’s some comfort.”

Helen has praised the staff who looked after Sam at Leeds General Infirmary, saying they gave her daughter outstanding care.

The family have also asked for donations to the Take Heart charity, which supports the cardiac units at both the LGI and St James’s Hospital in Leeds, in Sam’s memory.

Sam’s funeral will take place at St Aelred’s Church, on Monday, at 10am, before a committal at York Crematorium, at 11.40am. Her family have asked for donations in lieu of flowers to the Take Heart Charity, and have asked people to wear an item of pink in Sam’s memory.