Family looking ahead after heart transplant

Jessica Elliott, 11, of Bessacarr, a few hours after her heart transplant.
Jessica Elliott, 11, of Bessacarr, a few hours after her heart transplant.

COURAGEOUS youngster Jessica Elliott is on the road to recovery after undergoing a life saving heart transplant.

Family and friends are thrilled to see the cheeky smile back on the face of the 11-year-old who was born ten weeks premature with a heart defect affecting just one in a million.

Jessica Elliott, 11, of Bessacarr with her dog Freddie is recovering well after her heart transplant. Picture: Andrew Roe

Jessica Elliott, 11, of Bessacarr with her dog Freddie is recovering well after her heart transplant. Picture: Andrew Roe

It was touch-and-go back as doctors broke the news to mum Michelle, 46, and dad Alan, 43, that she had just weeks to find a new heart or she would not survive.

Michelle said: “A transplant was our only hope. She had become very poorly and didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. She was so weak that she didn’t want to get dressed or do anything.”

After a series of tests, Jessica, who is due to start Hall Cross School, was placed on the heart register list on April 18 and was told to pack her bags and be ready to go. Two days later, she suffered a stroke and had to be resuscitated at Doncaster Royal Infirmary.

The former Kingfisher Primary pupil, who won a Free Press Superkids award for her bravery, was taken to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where she got a call about a donor heart on April 28 and the operation was completed successfully the next day.

Michelle added: “It is a slow recovery but she’s doing really well.

“It has been exhausting and we know that we will now have to travel to Newcastle every two weeks for the rest of Jessica’s life for check-ups and tests. But it’s the decision we had to make and we would do anything to support her.

“She’s such a happy girl with such a wicked sense of humour. We couldn’t possibly manage without all the support of our family and friends.”

Much-loved puppy Freddie has also played a part in Jessica’s recovery. Big sister Stacey, 17, helped her watch the puppy - now five months old - grow up by beaming images through her laptop over video-phone system, Skype, to her hospital bed in Newcastle.