Colleen Ashby

Colleen lives in the Perth Hills, in Western Australia. A former high school special-needs educational assistant and fitness instructor; she is also a type 1 diabetic. With her heart failing, Colleen was finally put on the transplant list and had a heart transplant in January 2017. It wasn’t something normally offered to type 1 diabetics. While she was given a new heart, Colleen lost 95% of her sight. This hasn’t stopped her indomitable spirit or living life to its fullest. She is an advocate for DonateLife WA, has been a ‘poster girl’ for Vision Australia, a participant in the Transplant Games and a supporter of Transplant Australia. Colleen shares her story of resilience in the hope it will inspire and encourage people to appreciate what they have and what they can achieve. With her experience, knowledge and zest for life, Colleen aims to be a mentor and motivational speaker.

Type 1 diabetic, fitness fanatic, dancing queen, Canasta champion; only some of the tags to describe Colleen Ashby. Daughter, sister to five brothers, wife and mother of three sons further define her. Add to that, she is a heart transplant recipient who is now visually impaired with only 5% sight and you realise there is much more to learn. Colleen grew up in the Perth Hills, enjoying a safe and ‘privileged’ childhood, particularly with five brothers always looking out for her. Surrounded by a bunch of boisterous, competitive boys, it’s no surprise Colleen developed a passion for sport and fitness and a confidence she could do anything. Although physically fit, problems with her heart began to plague her and slow her down. Twelve stents later, the 13th was unlucky and resulted in open heart surgery. It was soon obvious her heart was not going to last much longer and after much discussion, serious consideration and convincing the ‘grumpy old witchdoctor’, Colleen was placed on the transplant list. Colleen was given a new heart but due to severe blood loss during the surgery, Colleen lost 95% of her vision. “I’d have been really pissed off if I’d lost it all but 5%? I can cope.” With a bucketful of hope, perseverance, gratitude and the unwavering support of friends and family, Colleen has navigated her new normal. Funny, down-to-earth, harrowing and at times, heartbreaking, I Can See Clearly Now is the rollercoaster ride of a woman who continues to defy expectations. Buy Now

How would you feel if you were declared legally blind? Would you be able to laugh, could you see the funny side of life? Following heart transplant surgery, this is what happened to Colleen Ashby and yes, she does see the funny side of life. In this, her second book, Colleen keeps us entertained with anecdotes full of humour and quirky incidents. In an entertaining way, she also educates us, giving the reader food for thought, and advice on how to behave around people with limited vision. Buy Now