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The brave 16-month-old baby who faces a race against time to get a new heart

Meet Beatrix Archbold – the brave 16-month-old who loves to smile.

Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 4:01 pm

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But behind the happy face lies the story of a little girl who needs a new heart.

Her parents Terry and Cheryl Archbold today spoke to the Sunderland Echo to urge Wearside people to start talking more about the sensitive topic of donating a child’s organs.

It is vital that the discussion happens now because it is too upsetting for a parent to consider when they have just lost a child, they say.

Beatrix Archbold.

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Terry and Cheryl, originally from Sunderland, know only too well what losing a child is like.

Their daughter Isabel was stillborn four years ago. The couple agreed her heart could be donated for medical research.

Now Beatrix is waiting for a heart herself.

Cheryl, who originally hails from Roker, said: “We are not wishing for a heart for Beatrix. We are hoping that, if a family is in that unimaginable position, they make a decision to agree to donating and that they get some healing from it. Donating organs can often save numerous lives.

Smiles from brave Beatrix.

"As adults, people do have that conversation about what to do if their partner was to pass but when it is about children, it is unthinkable.”

Terry said: “Child loss is a really hard thing to deal with, and the first time that parents are in that position where they are considering organ donation is when something really awful has happened.

"I understand why people say no but we want people to consider this. Would you accept a life saving organ for your child? If it’s a yes, would you agree to a donation of a life saving organ if something happens to your child?

"All we want to achieve is to get that discussion happening.”

Beatrix takes a ride in her buggy.

Terry said statistics show there are only 50 to 60 child donors a year yet there are more than 200 UK children waiting for life-saving organs.

Beatrix’s own story unfolded in May.

The Archbold family, who live in Burnopfield, had returned from a trip to Disney World in Florida and thought Beatrix caught Covid.

She had stopped drinking, had a rash on her neck and the family dialled 111.

Play time for Beatrix.

After going to A&E, a doctor at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead detected a heart murmur. Tests showed one side of her heart was enlarged and not functioning properly.

She had an operation to fit a line into her body so she could receive medication but she had a cardiac arrest and was saved by expert surgeons at the Freeman Hospital who performed open heart surgery.

"It was unbelievable,” said Terry. “We didn’t expect it to be anything to do with her heart. “It was like a bad dream but we were not waking up from it.”

Beatrix now lives at the Freeman. She is attached to tubes which act as her ventricles until she hopefully receives a new heart.

Yet she has got her smile back. She blows kisses to nurses who look after her, said her dad.

"You look at her from the chest upward and she is a smiling happy baby. You can easily forget that she is critically ill. Then your eyes scan down and you are reminded how poorly she is.”

Beatrix in hospital.

For more on organ donation, visit https://www.organdonation.nhs.uk/

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Beatrix takes a nap in hospital.