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Heart transplant saved boy's life

PUBLISHED: 15:29 19 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:05 03 July 2010

A mother whose second son has just undergone a lifesaving heart transplant has said her little boy could not have hung on much longer without a donor organ.

A mother whose second son has just undergone a lifesaving heart transplant has said her little boy could not have hung on much longer without a donor organ.

Doctors had warned that because Otto Smith was so small and frail there was only a slim chance of finding a matching heart and that dependency on a Berlin heart machine was the only short-term option.

But just as they prepared to install the pumping device, his parents Richard and Isabel Smith of Browston were told a heart had become available, albeit one belonging to a young adult much larger than Otto, who was three at the time of the operation.

For Mrs Smith it is the second time in just over two years she has had to watch one of her children have heart transplant surgery after teenage son Sam was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy along with other members of the family including Otto.

Surgeons took just four-and-a-half hours to plumb in Otto's new heart last month and after a two-week stay in London's Great Ormond Street Hospital he was allowed home to celebrate his fourth birthday last week.

Otto's rapid deterioration after Christmas has been matched by his swift recovery, Mrs Smith said, adding that although there was still plenty to contend with doctors were very pleased with his progress.

Side-effects of the drugs that are keeping him well are cancer and kidney failure and like older brother Sam his lifestyle will have to be carefully monitored and controlled every single day.

But Otto is eating well and has put on two kilos in weight, delighting his parents who watched helplessly as their little boy faded to skin and bone in the months he was on the waiting list.

“Everything is fine at the moment,” Mrs Smith said.

“He is on a lot of medication and will be for another 26 months.

“He has high blood pressure and has had a few complications but they are all things they expect with him being the age he is and the size of the heart he has been given.

“They are really pleased with him and that makes us pleased too.

“It's just like having a normal child back.”

She said Otto was “full of it” but that it would be a while before he rejoined chums at nursery because of his shattered immune system.

As a thank-you to Great Ormond Street Hospital a charity horse racing event will be held at the Short Blue pub in Gorleston which is run by family friends on Thursday at 7.30pm. To find out more call 01493 602192.


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