Too many broken hearts for one family

Aaron Vincent, aged five, from Easington Lane who had a heart transplant in early 2010, with his sister Sophie Brown, 12, who was also treated for a hole in her heart and arthritis.

Aaron Vincent, aged five, from Easington Lane who had a heart transplant in early 2010, with his sister Sophie Brown, 12, who was also treated for a hole in her heart and arthritis.

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A MUM today told of the anguish of discovering her daughter needed heart surgery – just months after her son had a transplant.

While brave Aaron Vincent, five, was recovering from the eight-hour heart operation, fresh worry was heaped on mum Andrea Bennett when doctors revealed daughter Sophie, 12, had a hole in her heart.

Andrea said: “After Aaron had his transplant, the specialist said he wanted to carry out tests on the other children, just to make sure they didn’t have the same condition.

“I was unsure about it,” added the 35-year-old, of Easington Lane.

“But I decided it would be better to know now, than discover there was something wrong later.”

Although neither Sophie, Nicole, 17, nor Callum, 11, had an enlarged heart, doctors found that Sophie, who also suffers from arthritis in her knees and ankles, had an undetected hole in her heart and she underwent surgery in November.

Andrea said: “I couldn’t believe it when they said they had found something wrong. Thankfully, it wasn’t as serious as it could have been and she is off all her medication now.

“She might have had it for years and she would probably have been a lot older before it started to affect her.”

Andrea believes Sophie being born eight weeks’ prematurely, weighing just 2lb 5oz, was the cause.

Aaron was three when he became unwell, with what was thought could be asthma.

An ultrasound examination at Sunderland Royal Hospital revealed the heart condition and he was immediately transferred to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

He was so ill with an enlarged heart he was confined to hospital on machinery, and his only chance of survival was a donor organ, which took a six-month search to find.

Now, 12 months on, his family cannot believe the transformation.

“He is on the go all the time,” said Andrea. “He loves being outside playing on his bike and hates being cooped up in the house.

“He just never stops, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I just can’t believe how well he is and the school has been brilliant, always letting me know of any bugs so I can keep him off to prevent him becoming ill.”

Since his transplant, Aaron, a reception pupil at Easington Lane Primary School, has to take medication each day to prevent his body from rejecting the donor heart.

Andrea said: “It has been a nightmare time. But now it is brilliant just being able to be a family together again.

“Aaron’s body could reject the heart at any time, but I try not to think about that and just enjoy each day as it comes.”