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Celebrating our incredible Heart Heroes this Organ Donation week

This week, 2nd – 8th September 2019, was Organ Donation Week, a week dedicated to celebrating the generosity of donors and raising awareness around the importance of organ donation.

Thanks to the amazing work we do here at CHUF, we were able to fund 12 families to attend the British Transplant Games in Newport this year! This meant 12 Heart Heroes who have had heart transplants were able to participate in the exciting event and share the experience with their families.

Here are three inspiring stories from some of our Heart Heroes who have undergone heart transplant surgery, something that has turned their and their families lives around.

Oliver Harrison was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) which means the left side of his heart did not form correctly. By the age of two, Oliver had undergone four open-heart surgeries before being told he would need a heart transplant. After treatment at both Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Newcastle Freeman Hospital, Oliver’s condition worsened. In August 2013, Oliver and his family’s lives were turned around when he underwent a successful heart transplant. It’s been almost six years since Heart Hero Oliver received a heart transplant and, amazingly, he has taken part in five British Transplant Games since! This super hero also won a Silver medal in this year’s breaststroke swimming race.

Elodie Gray was diagnosed with Dilated Cardiomyopathy at three months old and was placed in an induced coma for three months at her local hospital in Bristol, before being airlifted to Freeman Hospital in May 2014. Elodie was placed on a mechanical Berlin Heart for four weeks resulting in multiple cardiac arrests, a stroke and was also left with only half of her bowel. Elodie’s call came in at the eleventh hour when she received a heart transplant in July 2014. We funded Elodie and her family to attend this year’s British Transplant Games where she came 1st in her race!

Jack Atkinson was just 13 months old when he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. The onset of his illness was very sudden and he was transferred by air ambulance from a local hospital to the Freeman. Jack spent three weeks in intensive care on Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) before a donor heart became available. Jack is now 16-years-old and so far this year he has completed his Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award, earned a John Muir Award and represented his country in cycling at the World Transplant Games in Newcastle. He also completed his GSCEs and has just gone back to school to study for his A-levels. In a few weeks Jack will also be raising money for CHUF when he jumps out of an airplane!

CHUF supports children and young people who undergo heart transplant surgery as well as lifelong support to children and young people who are born with or who develop heart conditions. Find out more about organ donation and how you can become a donor by visiting https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/.

Children's Heart Unit Fund - CHUF

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