A YOUNG mother is praying to receive the most poignant Christmas present of all – a donor heart to save the life of her baby daughter.
Little Charleigh Thomson is fighting for her life after an operation to fix her seriously defective heart went sadly wrong.
Doctors in Great Ormond Street Hospital are pulling out all the stops to make the 19-month-old survive long enough for a donor heart to be found.
But tragically, with just days to go until Christmas, time is ticking away.
Charleigh’s mum Christina is keeping vigil at the tot’s bedside, along with her mother Yvonne Forbes.
“She is just so poorly,” wept Yvonne. “The doctors here are fantastic and they are doing everything they possibly can. But they say Charleigh’s only hope now is an urgent heart transplant.
“She needs a new heart today, tomorrow – as soon as possible. But we have to wait until one is found and watch her fading away while we wait.
“It is the worst possible situation. Our whole family is praying that our Christmas present will be a donor heart for Charleigh.
“Yet we know that to make our dream possible another family will have to go through the terrible suffering of losing their child.”
Today doctors are adjusting the medication keeping Charleigh alive and deciding whether she will be strong enough for a stopgap solution, a mechanical Berlin heart.
“The problem is that the operation to give her a Berlin heart is even more complicated than transplanting a human heart. The risks of the surgery, because Charleigh is so ill, are horribly high,” said Yvonne, who lives on Fishermead.
Charleigh was born at Milton Keynes Hospital, delivered by Caesarean section four weeks early because she was not growing sufficiently in the womb.
Minutes after her birth, she turned blue and had trouble breathing. Shocked Christina was told her baby’s growth problem had been due to three serious heart defects.
Charleigh underwent one operation when she was five weeks old and one last December. Then two months ago doctors carried out six hours of surgery in a bid to correct the remaining problems.
“The problems were fixed but sadly something went wrong and now the coronary artery does not work at all. It was nobody’s fault – just a complication of the operation,” said Yvonne.
“Charleigh is so precious and so loved by us all. She is as bright as a button and even now, when she is not well at all, she is managing to smile and give us high fives.
“She is such a fighter and she is fighting for her life. All we can do is pray and hope that our Christmas miracle will happen and a heart will be found.”
Charleigh’s family is urging everyone to register as a donor on the national NHS Organ Donor Register as a gesture of festive goodwill.
> You can do this online at www.uktransplant.org.uk/ukt/Consent.do or call the 24-hour a day organ donor line on 0300 123 23 23.