FA Cup clap plea for fan with heart failure

Football fans at the FA Cup semi-final on Sunday are being urged to clap for a Coventry City fan who is stuck in hospital waiting for a heart transplant.

Louis O'Brien-Smith has dilated cardiomyopathy, which doctors believe was probably caused by chemotherapy he underwent to treat childhood leukaemia.

The 21-year-old, who is from Coventry, is in urgent need of a heart transplant and is not allowed to leave hospital until he has received a new heart.

His mother, Chantelle Speirs, told the BBC: "He may never get back home, and he is very aware of that. That is the reality, unfortunately. So all of these things now mean everything."

To pay tribute to the 21-year-old, people in attendance at Sunday's FA Cup semi-final at Wembley, between Coventry City and Manchester United, are being urged to clap for Mr O'Brien-Smith in a bid to lift his spirits.

Ms Speirs said: "To know that his home town are thinking of him and acknowledging him means the world.

"He's miles away from home stuck within four walls, isolated from friends and family and everything that reminds him of his youth.

"The clap would brighten his day and keep him looking forward. This helps him feel that he isn't forgotten while he has no choice but to sit and wait and hope."

Other attempts to show support for Mr O'Brien-Smith include a song called Mr High (Louis Tribute) by the rapper YoungBloodRap.

Mr O'Brien-Smith also loves Mustang cars, and The Mustang Owners Club drove around the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where he is a patient in a bid to cheer him up.

Dilated cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that makes the muscle walls become stretched and thin.

The thinner walls are weakened as a result, meaning the heart can’t contract properly to pump blood effectively around the rest of the body.

The 21-year-old was due to have a transplant on Saturday 13 April, but was told at the last minute that there was an issue with the heart, which Ms Speirs called "soul-destroying."

Mr O'Brien-Smith urgently needs the transplant, but doctors stressed that a transplant is "a treatment, not a cure".

Mr O'Brien-Smith believes a clinical trial is his only hope of getting his life back.

"I feel like I'm running out of time," he said.

"Without [a clinical trial], I think I'll keep deteriorating and probably die. It's soul-destroying, really."

Ms Speirs said: "All you want is your child alive. I just hope that our prayers are answered.

"He has come so so far, and now he has reached young adulthood, which has defied all odds."

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