Great Ormond Street: Girl’s heart transplant helping to cut wait times

Great Ormond Street: Girl’s heart transplant helping to cut wait times

Image source, Family handout
Image caption, Lucy had her heart transplant when she was eight-years-old

A girl’s pioneering heart transplant is helping to cut waiting times for other children who need similar surgery.

Lucy, 10, from Basingstoke, Hampshire, is thought to be the oldest child in the world to receive a donor heart that did not match her blood type.

Her mother said the surgery, two years ago, gave her “another chance at life”.

Work at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London has expanded the potential donor pool for recipients and reduced the amount of blood needed during surgery.

Lucy’s mother, Jenny, said: “All the scans and tests she’s had have shown that everything is brilliant so we’ve got a future now, and we have lots of planning and things to do.

“If we were still waiting now, I don’t know what the effect on our mental health and our family life [would be].”

About 50 children are waiting for a heart transplant in the UK.

But small hearts are harder to find than for other groups because they have to come from a donor roughly the same size.

The wait to find a suitable heart is twice as long for children and babies than for adults.

Image caption, Jenny said her daughter Lucy, now 10, had been given “another chance at life”

A new blood-filtering device, called an immunoadsorption column, is being used during transplants to reduce the amount of blood needed and to allow older children to receive a new heart.

It removes antibodies in blood that can lead to transplants being rejected and keeps a recipient’s blood flowing to ensure they receive oxygen and nutrients until their new heart can take over.

Prof Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, which funded the research at the hospital, said it is a “major advance” in child heart transplantation.

The work has also doubled the age range of patients that the transplants can be offered to.

It has been used on 10 children so far. All have survived.

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