The family of a brave Dunstable mother who battled Cystic Fibrosis are paying tribute to her courage and kindness, after she defied the doctors’ odds and lived to 64.
Linda Madden, known for her business Blue Circle Taxis and her dedicated work to raise awareness about organ donation, passed away aged 64 on November 6, despite doctors telling her that she would only live to 29 when she was first diagnosed with the lung condition.
Determined Linda received a heart and lung transplant in 2003, and went on to have success at the National Transplant Games.
However, over the last four years her lungs began to be rejected, and after being looked after by Keech Hospice Care and Orchard Lodge Nursing Home, Linda passed away peacefully last month.
Linda’s son, Stephen, 35, said: “My mum was born with Cystic Fibrosis (a hereditary disease) and used to go home from school at dinner time to take her medicine and go back to school without anyone knowing about it - only her closest friends and family.
“Cystic Fibrosis is a respiratory disease which impacted on her ability to breathe and she had to do daily exercises to clear her lungs.
“As she got older her condition got worse. She did not have long to live and she was put on the transplant register.
“However, she was very independent and determined - very funny with a dark sense of humour.”
Linda was born in Markyate in 1953 and settled in Dunstable in 1964. She attended Dunstable Road Junior School and Dunstable Millvale School.
Most notably, together with her husband and Stephen’s father, Laurence Madden, the couple ran Blue Circle Taxis until Laurence passed away nearly 30 years ago, with Linda carrying on the company.
Following her transplant, she also worked for 10 years at Dunelm.
Stephen said: “Her determination is what kept her going, as she suffered the loss of her mother as a child and then her husband when I was only seven.
“We went skiing with my father in the 80s - my mum said being up a mountain was the only time she could breathe properly.
“She also, like me, loved Luton Town FC. We listened to a number of matches together and when she was in Keech Hospice Care she was pleased to see the Town do so well.”
Linda also loved competitive horse riding as a youngster and later won prizes at Crufts.
Prior to her transplant Linda volunteered as a receptionist at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital, wanting to give something back to the NHS, and during her lifetime she also managed to overcome cancer and diabetes.
Stephen said: “My mum was nominated for a CF Breathing Life award in 2008 - less than one per cent of the current CF population are aged 60 and over.
“Following her transplant she competed in three Transplant Games on behalf of Papworth Hospital, Cambridge, where she had her transplant. She won numerous track and field medals.
“Mum was chosen to represent Britain in the world games in Thailand but felt it was too far to go.”
Speaking to the Gazette in 2006 about the National Transplant Games in Bath, Linda said: “The transplant has made a big difference. The world’s your oyster, you’re a normal person health-wise...”
Linda was determined to raise awareness about organ donation, encouraging others to think about it and to carry a donor card with them.
Her own heart was donated when she had the heart and lung transplant; she did not need a heart but the procedure is more successful if both organs are transplanted together.
Linda is survived by her son, Stephen, as well as her three sisters: Geraldine Dadd, Tereza Watkins and Sheila Nicholson.