Medics thanked after baby Tom has heart transplant

A TODDLER who last year became the youngest boy in the UK to have a heart transplant has been reunited with the hospital staff who saved his life.

Tom Stacey, who is nearly two, became seriously ill just a week after being born at Colchester General Hospital.

Today Tom’s parents, Kristine and Ian of Clacton, were able to pay tribute to the “quick actions” of the doctors and nurses at Colchester A&E which led to a lifesaving heart transplant when he was a month old.

When he was eight days old, Mr and Mrs Stacey became alarmed by the dramatic change in colour of their son’s skin – a condition which they had been initially told was jaundice.

Primary school teacher Mrs Stacey, 31, said: “After getting to A&E, a nurse arrived almost straight away in the paediatric area to assess him, said she did not like his colour and whisked him off. Tom was taken into the resus area and it was as if every doctor in Colchester converged on him – they were brilliant.

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“Without the quick actions of Colchester A&E, Tom would not be here now and we will always be truly grateful for that. It was fantastic to return to the hospital to meet the people who helped our son.”

The first nurse they saw in A&E was paediatric nurse Becky Staples, who said she instinctively knew Tom was seriously ill as soon as she saw him.

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“He was swaddled in blankets,” she said. “As soon as I took the blankets off, I could see that the baby was quite blue and mottled, and seemed quite lifeless and floppy – and he wasn’t making any baby noises, like crying.

“I grabbed the nearest doctor who immediately began to bag oxygen into Tom and set up a line for resus fluids until the paediatric crash team arrived and took over.”

Tom was diagnosed with myocarditis, a condition which causes inflammation of the muscular tissue of the heart. It is frequently missed because many of the signs are very subtle.

Tom weighed 7lbs 3oz when he was born and seemed perfectly well. Mrs Stacey had been told she could take him home the same day.

Tom was only in Colchester for about nine hours before being rushed to London where he spent the next four months in hospital.

When he was put on the waiting list for a heart transplant, his parents were advised not to have high expectations because it was unusual for a donor organ to become available for such a young patient. All that Mr and Mrs Stacey know about the source of their son’s heart is that it came from somewhere in Europe. The transplant was carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Now healthy, Tom’s development is slightly behind in some areas and he will always have to take medication to stop his body from rejecting his new heart. Otherwise, doctors have said he will be able to live a normal life.

On his return to Colchester, Tom was accompanied by his parents, his three-year-old sister Polly, grandmother Linda Rowley and aunt Paula Rowley.

Mrs Stacey is supporting a national campaign being run by the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust to increase awareness of myocarditis in newly-born babies.

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