Suzanne Brumwell was ordained deacon by the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, in Llandaff Cathedral on 25 June, and is now serving as an assistant curate in Cowbridge.
When she was five, Mrs Brumwell, née Jones, now 50, was known as “the little Welsh heart girl”: after many prayers that her life would be saved, she able to travel to South Africa for essential surgery by the famous pioneer of heart transplants, Professor Christiaan Barnard. She had not been expected to live past her first birthday, and spent her first five years with a blue face and hands from the poor circulation caused by a congenital heart defect.
She said: “My grandmother read a newspaper story about a little boy in England who’d had a heart operation performed by Christiaan Barnard and was much better afterwards. She said that she’d been praying and felt that Christiaan Barnard was the answer to her prayers, and wrote to him to ask if he would operate on me.” Barnard (who died in 2001) agreed to do the surgery for free.
“After I’d had the operation, I went from being blue to pink overnight. From having no energy I was immediately able to do whatever I wanted: I could run, skip, ride a bike, and play with other children. By the time I was a teenager, I had a sense that God was calling me into ministry, which frightened me a little, and I ran away from it initially.
“I think that what happened to me as a child will help give me a compassion and empathy with people in certain situations. I am a little nervous, but I’m really looking forward to starting work.”