Courageous 12-year-old returns home after heart surgery to spend belated Christmas with family
A courageous young girl who was given the gift of life after receiving a new heart at Christmas has returned home to her family.
Twelve-year-old Kayleigh Llewellyn underwent a life-saving heart transplant at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital on November 24, 2019.
Parents Shaun Sidney and Sonia Llewellyn initially thought it was asthma, but when Kayleigh woke up the following day with a sore chest they took her to Sunderland Royal Hospital.
There, medics found that Kayleigh’s heart rate was too high and the Seaham High School pupil was sent to the Freeman Hospital’s Children’s Heart Unit (CHUF).
After undergoing further tests Kayleigh was diagnosed her with cardiomyopathy – a type of heart disease – and doctors told the family that she needed a heart transplant.
Kayleigh was taken to the High Dependency Unit and underwent surgery for a VAD Pump to be fitted on the left side of her heart, while the right side of her heart was linked to an ECMO machine.
After four weeks in intensive care, Kayleigh’s condition wasn’t improving and she was placed onto the urgent transplant list for a new heart in November.
Kayleigh underwent surgery to have a heart pump known as a Berlin Heart fitted, but just days later a heart became available and she was rushed back to theatre to undergo the transplant.
Since then Kayleigh has been going from strength to strength and on January 12 she was able to return to her home on Earl Street, Seaham.
Dad Shaun said: “Kayleigh is now back home after 102 days in hospital.
“She is doing great and is getting back to her normal self.
“She is is on medication three times a day, taking 20 tablets a day, but this will be reduced once they get into her system.
“The school are going to put a home tutor in place with the aim of going back to school in June or July.”
For the first few months back at home Kayleigh has to stay in the house or only visit quiet areas until her immune system builds back up.
She will remain on medication for the rest of her life, but will be able to return to the activities she loves, such as football.
And to celebrate her return home, the family held a belated Christmas Day on January 25, to make up for the fact that Kayleigh missed out while in hospital.
Dad Shaun continued: “We had turkey, presents - the lot, it was a good day.
“It’s just nice to have Kayleigh back home.”
And now the family are hoping to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and are embarking on a series of fundraisers.
A football match in aid of the Children's Heart Unit is being organised for the May Bank Holiday at Gateshead Stadium and family friend Emma Hopkins, 42, will take on the Great North Run in aid of the British Heart Foundation.
To donate visit: https://www.justgiving.com/Emma-Hopkins77