By ANNA HODGEKISS
The UK's first ever successful baby heart transplant survivor has celebrated the 25th anniversary of her operation.
Kaylee Davidson-Olley made medical history when she had the transplant aged just four months on October 14, 1987 at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle.
Since then 112 children in the UK under the age have received new hearts.
Miss Davidson-Olley said: ‘I can’t believe I am fit and healthy 25 years after my heart transplant. I feel overwhelmed, excited and very emotional.
‘This was only made possible because of the generosity of a family who made that important decision about organ donation, a decision that saved my life. Without that family discussing organ donation, I simply wouldn’t be here.’
The 25-year-old balances studying at college with a busy athletics schedule, has just been picked to represent Great Britain at the World Transplant Games in Durban, South Africa in July next year.
She added: ‘I hope that my own story and that of all the children at this special event will encourage others to be involved, if only to just talk about organ donation with their family.’
This week there are six babies on the organ donor register awaiting new hearts and two children have already died this year whilst waiting for organs.
At the 25th anniversary of the first successful baby heart transplant held today, Miss Davidson-Olley was joined by medical experts from around the world and more than 30 people who since have had the operation as babies.
Dr Richard Kirk, a consultant paediatric cardiologist at Freeman Hospital, said: ‘The 25th anniversary of Kaylee’s operation is a celebration of both her life, the skills of the medical team who have looked after her and Kaylee and her family’s determination to make the most of the gift of life from her donor.