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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 May, 2005, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
Second heart for transplant girl
Debbie Ward
Debbie collapsed on a school bus
A teenager has undergone a second heart transplant after her first wore out.

Debbie Ward, 16, from Horncastle in Lincolnshire, received her second replacement heart after collapsing on the school bus.

The teenager decided to have the operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital after becoming ill from the first heart she received at 15 months.

Debbie was born without a tricuspid valve, which stops the blood flowing the wrong way around the heart.

Within days of deciding to undergo a second operation and to have the third heart before reaching adulthood, a donor was found and she was given a new heart on 2 February 2003.

Her mother Debbie Ward, 52, said: "She was the youngest to survive the operation at Great Ormond Street 15 years ago - she was a guinea pig really.

"We had never really discussed that with her because it's not nice for a child to know - children think they will live forever."

Transplant sports

Dr Paul Aurora, a transplant consultant, said: "We are able to do second heart transplants more easily than second lung transplants.

"But the risks are higher the second time and not everybody is suitable."

A spokesperson for Great Ormond Street Hospital, which treats children and teenagers, added the average survival rate for a heart transplant patient is 10 years because the arteries in a transplant heart corrode and gradually give way.

Debbie now wants to train as a nurse and is set to compete in the British Transplant Games either doing table tennis or the long jump.

She will need to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.


SEE ALSO:
Transplant team's hi-tech winner
24 Apr 05 |  Cambridgeshire


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