Page last updated at 18:47 GMT, Friday, 13 March 2009

Heart transplants for two babies

Patrick Skinner
Patrick has been on the waiting list since Christmas

Two sick babies have received new hearts within minutes of each other at the same Tyneside Hospital.

Ellen Walsh, 10 months, and Patrick Skinner, two, both of North Tyneside, are recovering after the operations at Newcastle's Freeman Hospital on Monday.

Leukaemia sufferer Patrick had been on the transplant list since Christmas, and Ellen since she was born.

The hospital said it was the first time staff had performed heart transplants on two babies on the same day.

Ellen was born with two holes in her heart and her arteries the wrong way round.

Ellen's parents talk about the operation

Patrick, who was diagnosed with leukaemia in July, suffered heart failure after his body reacted badly to chemotherapy drugs.

He was placed on a double Berlin Heart machine on Boxing Day which kept his blood circulating until a donor was found.

On Monday, Ellen's parents Stefanie, 30, and Ian, 34, of Appletree Gardens, Monkseaton, North Tyneside, got the call to say an organ had been found.

Hours later Patrick's father Kevin, 28, and mother Devon, 25, of Paignton Avenue, also received the same call.

Donor transplant coordinator at the hospital, Lynn Robson, said: "We have done three heart transplants in 24 hours before, but this is the first time we have ever done two transplants on babies in a day.

"The operations were a success and both babies are recovering well."

Mrs Walsh said: "At first we didn't realise Patrick was getting a heart transplant and I felt guilty Ellen was having the operation.

"It was amazing when we discovered Patrick was having the operation too."



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