Dad's emotional praise for 'hero' daughter, 12, after life-saving heart transplant

A devoted dad has hailed his daughter as a ‘hero’ after seeing her undergo a life-saving heart transplant.

Kayleigh Llewellyn, 12, was given the gift of life at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital late last year when she underwent a heart transplant.

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.

Kayleigh Llewellyn is now back home with parents Sonia Llewellyn and Shaun Sidney.

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 Llewellyn, 12, with brother Liam Llewellyn, following her heart transplant.

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.

Now she is on a mission to raise awareness of the importance of organ donation and raise funds for the hospital which cared for her.

Her efforts to spread the message through sharing her story have even been recognised with a Best of Wearside Award nomination.

Kayleigh Llewellyn, 12 during surgery.

Kayleigh has been put forward for the Child of Courage accolade, which pays tribute to her bravery in battling back from the illness.

And now her dad Shaun Sidney has shared his emotional message of praise for his daughter following her brave fight.

Mr Sidney said: “Our daughter Kayleigh is our inspiration.

“She fought for 10 weeks to stay with us.

The Best of Wearside Awards.

“She went through 10 operations – some of them lasting 13 hours a time – had 100 stitches and was given a new heart.

“Now she is back home with us and we are grateful for everyday we have with her.

“We love her deeply and she is our hero.

“Through all her pain, she is still planning on a lot of fundraising for the hospital and raise a lot of awareness of the importance of donors.”

The Best of Wearside Awards 2020

This year’s competition has backing from headline sponsor BGL, partner sponsors Utility Alliance and Gentoo, and category sponsors Marelli and Wearside Audi.How to nominateNow comes your turn to get involved by nominating by March 2.Just send your name, address and telephone number, as well as your email address, if applicable.And remember to include the category that you are putting your nominated cause into.Also, make sure you send the name of the person you wish to nominate, along with their address, telephone number and email (if known).There are three ways to nominate.l Email [email protected] Post to Lynn Wild, North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC), Wearfield Enterprise Park East, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, SR5 2TA.l Visit categories :: Community Group of the Year.:: Student of the Year.:: Green Champion of the Year.:: Child of Courage.:: Child of Achievement.:: Young Voice of Wearside.:: Fundraiser of the Year.:: Volunteer of the Year.:: Sporting Achievement of the Year.::Community Champion Award.Once the nomination deadline has passed, judges will meet to draw up the shortlist in each category.Everyone who reaches the shortlist stage will be invited to the grand finale which will be held at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday, April 1.