Youngest sur­vivor cel­e­brates

The People - - NEWS FEATURES & - By An­to­nia Paget t

A WOMAN who had a heart trans­plant as a babyaby has just turned 30 – and is mark­ing the mile­stone birth­dayrth­day with a plea for more donors.

Ev­ery beat of the or­gan in Kaylee David­son-Ol­ley’s chest est re­minds her just how lucky she is to be alive.

But Bri­tain’s youngest­gest sur­viv­ing trans­plant pa­tient is only nly too aware that many other peo­pleo­ple will die with­out sim­i­lar ops.

And she knows first-handst-hand the pain of los­ing hun­dred­sndreds of friends who did not make it.

Kaylee plans to cel­e­brate ebrate the 30th an­niver­sary of her 1987 trans­plant with fund-rais­ingd-rais­ing events, in­clud­ing a walk alk and an 80s fancy dress party.arty.

She told the Sun­day un­day Peo­ple: “I’m ex­citedd about it. When the day comes mes I’ll be think­ing, ‘Wow, I’veve come this far.’ It will be me re­al­is­ing what I’ve gone through, ugh, and what I’ll go through later on.

Sur­vival al

“I’ll have my fam­ily y and friends there to cel­e­brate. My doc­tors will also be there as they’rey’re part of the fam­ily.”

Kaylee has led a full life, in­clud­ing win­ning gold for the UK at the World Trans­plant Games, but she has also ex­pe­ri­enced her share of sad­ness, de­pres­sion and men­tal health prob­lems.

And her an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions will be marred by grief at the death last year of her best pal and fel­low trans­plant pa­tient Joanne Hope.

She said: “It’s go­ing to be so hard with­out Joanne be­cause she has al­ways been there for me.

“But be­ing the first suc­cess­ful in­fant heart trans­plant in the UK means the world.

“I feel like I have a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity with trans­plan­ta­tion and es­pe­cially pae­di­atrics. I want to show there is a life af­ter trans­plant.”

Kaylee’s heart was se­verely dam­aged as a new­born by a vi­ral in­fec­tion and she was put on the trans­plant list.

The op had never been suc­cess­ful on a baby out­side the US, but on Oc­to­ber 14, 1987, Kaylee made his­tory by re­ceiv­ing a new heart at Free­man Hos­pi­tal in New­cas­tle.

Her sur­vival for three decades is tes­ti­mony to how cru­cial it is for more peo­ple to reg­is­ter for or­gan donation – some­thing she has cam- paigned for her en­tire life. More fund­ing is needed to help the 6,335 des­per­ately ill Brits, in­clud­ing 182 chil­dren, cur­rently on the wait­ing list for new or­gans.

Three peo­ple die ev­ery day while wait­ing for trans­plants.

Kaylee, from Durham, said: “I’ve lost hun­dreds of close friends.

“Peo­ple who have ei­ther been wait­ing for trans­plants, or have gone i nto chronic re­jec­tion and it hasn’t worked. Ev­ery time I lose some­one I lose part of me as well.”

Clos­est f r i end Joanne was given a heart trans­plant in the same hos­pi­tal as Kaylee a year af­ter her.

They met as chil­dren in the Free­man trans­plant clinic and grew close de­spite a 10-year age gap.

Later they lost touch but an emo­tional re­union fol­lowed in 2012 when Joanne at­tended the 25th an­niver­sary of Kaylee’s op. From that mo­ment on they did ev­ery­thing to­gether, ac­com­pa­ny­ing each other to trans­plant clin­ics and hos­pi­tal ap­point­ments where they mer­ci­lessly teased their car­di­ol­o­gist

BEST PAL: Kaylee, right, with Joanne

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