Heart transplant boy ready to come home

A TEENAGE boy who was given the gift of life for Christmas when he underwent a heart transplant operation is getting ready to return home to Suffolk.Last month Gareth Barham received the news he had been waiting seven months to hear – doctors at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital had found him a replacement heart.

A TEENAGE boy who was given the gift of life for Christmas when he underwent a heart transplant operation is getting ready to return home to Suffolk.

Last month Gareth Barham received the news he had been waiting seven months to hear – doctors at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital had found him a replacement heart.

And yesterday Gareth's father Peter, speaking from his son's bedside, told of the family's overwhelming joy at the success of the operation, and how they were looking forward to taking Gareth home next week.

Mr Barham, from Bury St Edmunds, said: "We had 19 weeks of waiting. It was the not knowing that was the hardest thing, and then the week before Christmas we got a phone call to say the hospital had found a heart for Gareth.


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"We went straight to London where we were given the news that the operation could not go ahead because the heart they wanted to use was no good."

The family returned home, but the next day they received another phonecall to say a second heart had been found.

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"That was 1am," said Mr Barham, who is Canon Pastor at St Edmundsbury Cathedral. "By 10 past we were in the ambulance, and by 3am we were at Great Ormond Street"

After a nerve-wracking five hours, Mr Barham and his wife Julie were told their son's operation had been a success.

He said: "When we were told there was a heart available, it was like a huge weight had been taken off our minds, but we were still very anxious about the operation itself.

"We were all so excited but for the first few days after the operation we were also very worried that something would go wrong, and it was as though a dark cloud was hanging over us."

The family, including daughter Hannah, 17, and youngest son Harry, spent Christmas Day and New Year's Eve by Gareth's bedside.

"Just knowing that Gareth was all right was the best Christmas present any of us could have wished for," said Mr Barham.

"The past few months have been so incredibly difficult. We are now just looking forward to getting back to normal, although we are just taking things step by step at the moment."

It is hoped that Gareth, who is expected to be allowed home on Monday, will be able to return to school at County Upper School in Bury within the next few weeks.

Mr Barham said: "We took Gareth out for a pizza on Friday night which was lovely. Going out for dinner is the sort of thing that most of us take for granted, and until last May Gareth did as well."

"We are all so pleased that the operation was a success, but we are also trying to come to terms with the fact that Gareth's donor has died and somewhere there is a family mourning the loss of someone they loved.

"We do not know who that person was, and we never will, but he or she has given Gareth the chance of life that no medicine or drug was able to do, and we are very thankful for that."

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