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Sunday, 21 December 2014

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Youngster going from strength to strength year after heart transplant

Katelyn McAleavy is today celebrating one year since she got her new heart.

Katelyn McAleavy photo
Katelyn McAleavy

Twelve months ago the youngster’s desperate family received the life-changing phone call to say that a donor heart had finally been found after months of uncertainty.

And since the brave nine-year-old underwent the complex operation, her health has gone from strength to strength and she is now a different child, say her family.

In an emotional interview with the News & Star, Katelyn’s mum, Amy Lamb, told how she is bursting with pride at her daughter’s determination and how she will never be able to repay the family who gave Katelyn a second chance in life.

“We’re all so proud of her – I’m filling up now thinking about what she’s been through,” said Amy, of Mirehouse, Whitehaven. “She’s just bounced back every single time.

“You can’t believe the difference in her from last year. From not being able to do anything and sleeping all the time, she’s now playing with her friends and there’s no stopping her.”

Her grandmother, Joy Lamb, added: “Katelyn is doing absolutely fantastic – she’s a totally different girl from this time last year. She’s had a fabulous 12 months and has done very well health-wise.”

Katelyn was born with hyperplastic left heart syndrome, which meant that only half her heart worked properly.

Since birth, she had four major operations, including having a pacemaker fitted. In November 2012, her heart failed again and the only option left was a transplant.

After a 10-month wait on several emergency transplant lists, the family was contacted last August to say a suitable donor had become available, and she was rushed to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for surgery.

And ever since, Katelyn has continued to amaze her family with her strength and determination.

She is back at school full-time, rides her bike, has sleepovers with friends and just last month performed in a three-day dance show in Workington.

When she first left hospital, she was taking 12 daily medications which has now been slashed to four and only visits the hospital for routine check-ups every month.

Later on today, following a 12-month check-up at Newcastle, her family will host a party at Whitehaven Miners Club, remembering the donor at the same time.

“We can’t put it into words how grateful we are,” said Amy. “Katelyn is going to be writing a letter to the donor family next week and sending it through the heart transplant co-ordinator.”

The family are still passionately continuing to raise awareness of the importance of becoming an organ donor.

Since Katelyn’s story became public, they say an extra 400 people have signed the register.

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