Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is to host an exhibition of photographs of survivors born with a heart condition, bearing their scars.

The exhibition, called ScarredFORLife, was created by three friends with congenital heart disease, Dr Liza Morton, Jenny Kumar, and Evening Times reporter Caroline Wilson, on behalf of adult heart charity The Somerville Foundation (

Liza Morton, 36, is a psychologist from Falkirk. She was born with complete congenital heart block, has depended on a cardiac pacemaker since birth and has a surgically closed atrial septal defect.

MY scars mean I was born with a heart condition. They map my survival. The top of my leg is where an external pacemaker once sustained my newborn heart.

Tracks run from my breastbone to my back tracing where surgeons fitted early, fickle set-rate pacemakers beneath my ribs to my growing heart. I'd had five by my seventh birthday.

A neat vertical line marks where my breastbone was opened, aged 12, to mend the hole in my heart. A messier site, beneath my left collarbone, hosts a pacemaker, one of several fitted since my late teens. Left behind by countless intravenous interventions, white flecks litter my hands and wrists. Together, these scars mean that from an early age I had to find a way to tolerate pain, disappointment and fear without being consumed by it.

My scars speak of a life gifted by medicine, the humanity of the NHS and the family and friends who have walked with me.

Scott Burrell, 36, is a scientist from Lanarkshire. He had pulmonary stenosis - a heart valve disorder which reduces flow of blood to the lungs - corrected when he was three years old and an artificial pulmonary valve fitted

last year.

I have had my scar as long as I can remember. Growing up it was good for impressing other kids and grossing out girls but I never really linked it to any memories of surgery, as I was too young to remember anything.

Over the years I sort of forgot about it, as the only reminder I had was yearly check-ups, all of which passed without the need for treatment.

That all changed last May when it was decided I needed a valve replacement.

Thankfully everything went to plan and I now have a new, more prominent scar on top of my old one,

My scar reminds me that I had the strength to get through it twice before and I can do it again. Plus, it's still useful to gross out girls.

Caroline Wilson, 39, is a reporter for the Evening Times.

She was born with a narrowing of the aorta and problems with her bicuspid aortic valve. The aorta is the main blood vessel that channels blood through the body.

My scars stretches across my back, a hidden part of me. It is a reminder of the fragility of life and the resilience of the body.

My aorta was almost completely blocked from birth and my body built a network of blood vessels to help bypass that blockage and keep me alive.

The problem wasn't discovered until I was 31, when one GP refused to ignore my dangerously high blood pressure - she probably saved my life.

The first cardiologist I saw simply shook her head when I told her I had recently run a half marathon. Apparently I could have died during it.

When I look at my scar, and sometimes when I'm out running now, I give thanks to the NHS and for the extraordinary skill of the surgeon, Mr Jim Pollock.

Maggie Ross, 43, from Glasgow, works to get adults into education and training. She was born with a series of complex heart problems.

I was born in 1971 and my first open heart surgery scar was born in 1980. The summer of that year I came to life. I could now run, play, dance, skip, hop and jump until my heart's content. As a child my scar meant I had a newfound strength, power and freedom in this world. No longer a bystander.

My second scar was born in 2009, shortly after my third child was born.

My scars remind me that I'm a warrior and my heart is my secret weapon against the odds.

Don't get me wrong, there was and are times when there is an inner turmoil of fear and anger when I look at my scar, but I remind myself: 'I am here, alive.' These scars are mine, a part of me.

Roderick Skinner, 72, is a former civil servant and lives in Fife. He has had a bypass and a replacement of his aortic valve with a mechanical St Jude valve.

The night before my surgical procedure, I remember studying my chest in a mirror and thinking: 'This is the last time I'll look whole.'

The next day I awoke with the long and deep incision, which had been necessary to remedy my various cardiac faults.

As my recovery gathered pace, I became much more aware of it and took to wearing a T-shirt just about all the time so as to disguise its existence from others. But then I came to realise I was hiding it from myself and that without the scar there would, in fact, be no me.

I love swimming,

particularly in a warm sea. The T-shirt has long gone and I rejoice again in the water's kiss directly on my skin.

I also harbour the perhaps fanciful hope that among those on the beach there may be some awaiting heart surgery, or who know someone who is, and they can say to themselves: 'There's an old boy who has come through that experience and look how much he's enjoying himself.'

Yes, I'm scarred and for life - and so thankful for it.

Heather McDougall, 29, is a scientist who lives in Fife. She was born with Shones syndrome, a rare combination of four left-sided congenital cardiac anomalies.

I count myself lucky that next year I will be turning 30.

When I was born I was a healthy baby. However, at six months old I deteriorated and my mum insisted -

luckily - that they check my heart.

"I was diagnosed with Shones syndrome and the consultant said if that had been a week later I wouldn't be there.

I had my first open heart surgery at six months and first artificial valve at two years old.

I have since had three further open heart operations.

I don't let my condition define me or hold me back. I have been to university, completed a BSc and a PhD, and married my wonderful husband.

We now have two very beautiful girls - Ailsa and Iona.

I feel very blessed and thankful for my scars. If I didn't have them I wouldn't be here.

The exhibition opens on February 13.

The idea for ScarredFORlife was sparked by a Facebook conversation I had with Liza and Jenny, writes Caroline Wilson.

We didn't want to go down the 'selfie' route, which some charities have adopted, but wanted to create something celebratory and positive for the participants as well as shining a light on a hidden population.

While all of us have benefitted from life-saving surgery and treatment from the NHS we also wanted to highlight the current gaps in care.

There is an acute shortage of specialists in Scotland and a need to improve the psychological support offered to patients after the surgical scars have healed.

lIf you are worried about a congenital heart condition contact the Sommerville Foundation Patient Helpline on 0800 854759 or email