A big cuddle from Mum… just like 25 years ago: Woman who was first UK baby to have heart transplant celebrates anniversary of historic surgery
Kaylee Davidson-Olley had the transplant aged just four months
Became the UK's first ever successful baby heart transplant survivor
'Without that family discussing organ donation, I simply wouldn’t be here'
17:52 GMT, 12 October 2012
The UK's first ever successful baby heart transplant survivor has celebrated the 25th anniversary of her operation.
Kaylee Davidson-Olley made medical history when she had the transplant aged just four months on October 14, 1987 at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.
Since then 112 children in the UK under the age have received new hearts.
Miss Davidson-Olley said: ‘I can’t believe I am fit and healthy 25 years after my heart transplant. I feel overwhelmed, excited and very emotional.
Kaylee Davidson-Olley, pictured with her mother Carol, has celebrated her 25th anniversary of becoming the UK's first ever successful baby heart transplant. She was just four months old when the had the operation at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.
‘This was only made possible because of the generosity of a family who made that important decision about organ donation, a decision that saved my life. Without that family discussing organ donation, I simply wouldn’t be here.’
The 25-year-old balances studying at college with a busy athletics schedule, has just been picked to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa in July next year.
She added: ‘I hope that my own story and that of all the children at this special event will encourage others to be involved, if only to just talk about organ donation with their family.’
This week there are six babies on the organ donor register awaiting new hearts and two children have already died this year whilst waiting for organs.
At the 25th anniversary of the first successful baby heart transplant held today, Miss Davidson-Olley was joined by medical experts from around the world and more than 30 people who since have had the operation as babies.
Dr Richard Kirk, a consultant paediatric cardiologist at Freeman Hospital, said: ‘The 25th anniversary of Kaylee’s operation is a celebration of both her life, the skills of the medical team who have looked after her and Kaylee and her family’s determination to make the most of the gift of life from her donor.
Mother Carol cuddles her daughter while in hospital for her transplant (left). Miss Davidson-Olley has just been picked to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa in July next year
‘We are very proud of Kaylee and urge parents to consider organ donation, despite incredibly difficult circumstances. It has exceeded our wildest dreams. We did not know if the heart would grow but to see them all living lovely lives is tremendous for us.'
Miss Davidson-Olley’s mother Carol said: ‘We were in the right place at the right time 25 years ago, and will forever be grateful to the medical team who saved her life and also to the donor family.
‘Kaylee is an amazing and inspirational young woman. She has spent her life campaigning so that others can have the same opportunity as her – the gift of life itself.'
Anthony Clarkson, assistant director for organ donation with NHS Blood and Transplant, said: 'It is great that due to transplants, many people are alive today.
‘However these life-saving operations are only possible thanks to the generosity of donor families.
'There are 10,000 people currently in need of a transplant, with 177 people waiting for a heart. Three people die every day waiting for an organ, so we need people to sign up to the Organ Donor Register and tell their family their wishes so more lives can be saved.'
To find out how to join the NHS organ donor register visit uktransplant.org.uk or contact the organ donor line on 03001 232 323.