Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Boy, 13, makes amazing recovery after heart transplant - but his mum keeps his old heart as a souvenir

Pete Wallis
From the Daily Mail in the UK:
A teenager who suffered a heart attack has made an amazing recovery after undergoing a lifesaving heart transplant and his mother has kept his old heart as a reminder of his good fortune.

Earlier this year 13-year-old Pete Wallis was so ill he could not safely climb the stairs, used a wheelchair, and barely had the strength to eat.

He was born with four life-threatening heart defects, and after his condition worsened in 2006 his only chance of survival was a transplant.

After an agonising wait, Pete underwent the operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital where he was given the heart of a man in his twenties.

Due to confidentiality rules the family know nothing else about him.

Pete, now 14, of Gosport, Hants, said: "I feel great. I'm not completely back to normal, but I'm getting there.

"Before the transplant I couldn't do anything but lie down. If I walked up the stairs I had to have help in case I collapsed. Now I can run up the stairs."

His mother Kes, 38, now keeps her son's heart preserved in a clear plastic bag in a cardboard box in her bedroom.

She said: "One of the things that upset me most was the thought of them taking Pete's heart out and getting rid of it.

"I made him - I made his heart, and against all the odds it kept him alive until he had his transplant."

Pete was in and out of hospital from birth and underwent two major operations before he was three years old.

He had a hole in his heart, one of his arteries had narrowed, the major blood vessel leading to his heart was displaced and the muscle wall of his right ventricle had thickened.

Medics had even discussed putting Pete into an induced coma to stabilise him if his condition deteriorated any further.

In January, the family were informed there was a heart ready for Pete at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

He underwent a five-hour operation and then a further four hours of surgery after his new heart went into shock - a recognised complication of heart transplants.

Pete was put on dialysis for two days after his kidneys failed and he temporarily became diabetic.

The teenager was kept sedated for two days but he pulled through and was discharged after just 16 days.

He is now looking forward to a bright future. He added: "I'm really chuffed - I'm so much happier. I've got a new life."

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