Ground-breaking transplant operation gives tragic Gateshead family fresh hope for change

Posted: January 21, 2015 at 8:49 pm

The family of tragic baby Tiarna Middleton are clinging to hope for a change in medical rules after a ground-breaking transplant operation took place in London.

Medical guidelines prevented Tiarna, who died last year, from receiving a donor heart from a newborn baby.

However a six-day-old baby girls kidneys and liver cells have since been given to two separate recipients in an operation being described as a medical milestone in neo-natal care.

Tiarna died aged 18 days after becoming the youngest baby in the world ever to be fitted with a Berlin heart in a world first operation at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

It was hoped the artificial device would keep her alive long enough for a donor heart to become available. But in the UK it is currently recommended that babies under two months old should not become donors due to difficulties in ascertaining whether they are officially brain-stem dead.

Without the availability of a tiny newborn heart, medics had to look to hospitals in France and Spain for help, however Tiarna died before one suitable was found.

Her mum Sharney Gray, of Rowlands Gill in Gateshead, said: I think that this just goes to show though how many lives can be saved if they do change the rules and I do think this operation is a sign that they will change things soon. I think hundreds and hundreds of lives could be saved.

It must have been an incredibly hard decision for that family to make to let their baby become a donor.

The team from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has spent the past year reviewing current medical guidelines on newborn donations. Their findings are due to be released later this year.

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Ground-breaking transplant operation gives tragic Gateshead family fresh hope for change

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