Fiona Coote became Australia's youngest, and most famous, heart transplant recipient when she underwent surgery at the age of 14 on 8 April 1984. While Coote was the fourth transplant recipient in Australia, she is only the second to survive for a significant period.
Born on 3 January 1970 and growing up on a family farm, Galen, 8 km (5 mi) from Manilla in northern New South Wales, Coote attended a private Catholic school near Tamworth.
In her twenties, Coote made the decision to not have any children but she did go on to marry in 1996.
The procedure was performed by notable Chinese-Australian cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Victor Chang. The urgency was due to complications of viral-induced tonsilitis, that significantly weakened her heart. The surgery was performed at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney. When she later began rejecting the first heart, Coote was forced to endure a second transplant, which took place in 1986. She has enjoyed good health since.
Much of Coote's life has been spent in the public eye and she has used her high profile in public service working for numerous charitable organisations including the Victor Chang Foundation and the Starlight Foundation. In 1999, Coote was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of her public awareness promotion of heart disease, and for her work raising funds for seriously and terminally ill children. Coote has also worked in promotions for Willow Valley, a cereal manufacturer, and Dairy Farmers.
As a result of her fame, Coote was approached to appear in the Australian soap, Neighbours. Despite beginning rehearsals, Coote ultimately decided acting was not for her. Channel Ten publicly blamed the back down on illness but Coote later attributed it to the associated pressure to participate in interviews and publicity for the show. Coote has made a number of television appearances, including appearing in a segment on Burke's Backyard.
2001 saw release of a rose named in honour of Coote. Called "Fiona's Wish", it is a hybrid tea (bush rose) and the bi-coloured blooms are cherry red, edged with gold reverse.