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1985: Heart-lung transplant makes history

A three-year-old boy from Dublin has become the world's youngest heart and lung transplant patient.

Jamie Gavin had the four-hour operation at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex, west of London.

His condition is described as satisfactory.

The young patient and his parents were flown from Ireland to London on Monday.

He had been waiting for a donor since May, when doctors told his parents he had a congenital heart disease which was progressively weakening his heart and lungs.

Jamie's parents, Tom and Marian Gavin, have spoken of the pressure of their wait.

They said that before the operation Jamie had hardly any energy.

Mrs Gavin said: "He was very tiny for his age, he didn't grow and was very thin.

"He didn't have a future without this operation."

Before Jamie, the youngest heart-lung patient was five-year old Brook Matthews from Australia who also underwent surgery at Harefield.

Jamie's operation was performed by Britain's leading transplant specialist, Egyptian-born Magdi Yacoub.

It was the 20th time Mr Yacoub has carried out this procedure at Harefield - so far 14 of those who have had the operation are still alive.

Mr Yacoub used a new device - a miniature support machine - which allowed the donor's heart and lungs to be brought to Harefield.

Until recently the donor's body had to be transported to Harefield because the organs could be damaged if moved separately.

This meant that some chances for transplants were lost as moving the body was deemed too impractical or was too upsetting for relatives.

In Context
Jamie's new heart and lungs came from three-year-old Tina Bran.

She had died after a fall from a third-floor window while visiting a friend's flat with her mother in Southampton.

In 1986 a 30-month-old boy succeeded Jamie Gavin as the youngest heart-lung transplant recipient.

The same year Jamie had recovered sufficiently to take part in a fun run to raise funds for Harefield Hospital.

But in July 1992 he died at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London.

At the time of his death he was believed to be the world's longest-surviving heart and lung transplant recipient.


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