On 8th November the family received the call they had been anxiously awaiting, a heart donated by a family in Germany was available. Kate said: “We got the call in the morning when my husband was just about to feed Archie his porridge, the transplant co-ordinator came rushing in and said you might want to hold off on that because we’ve had a heart come in.
“You feel so many emotions at that point, fear, sadness and excitement. We got confirmation that we would be going in for the operation at 11.30am and we were good to go.
“We were scared because a heart transplant is the most dangerous operation a person can have, when he was in there all we were thinking was: when are we going to get the call? Is he going to be OK?
“He was put on an ECMO machine straight afterwards, which does the work of the heart and the lungs, to give the new organ time to settle in. Not all children need to go on it but Archie did, it’s an amazing machine, it probably saved his life.”
Despite the risks, the eight-hour operation was a success and Archie, who celebrated his second birthday last Wednesday, 30th December, has been recovering well ever since.
Kate said: “He’s made good, steady progress since the operation, we’re so happy we’ve got our little boy back, we’re looking forward to a happy and healthy 2016. We’ve still got a few hoops to jump through but we’re hoping to have him back in Warwickshire by the end of January.
“The staff at the Freeman Hospital have been incredible, we couldn’t have coped as well as we have done without them, they are such a fantastic support network and I now consider many of the nurses to be good friends.
“Our life has just been on hold since March really, in the New Year I’m just looking forward to a normal life, having time in our own home. We’re excited to get our dogs back, they’ve been staying with my family in Ireland, and it’ll be great to have all the family together again. I can’t wait to get back to Stratford.
“I think the family who donated the heart to Archie are incredibly brave and generous to do what they did at a time that is the worst moment of their lives. We will be eternally grateful for what they’ve done for Archie.”
Kate said that due to the immunosuppressants Archie is taking they will not be holding a big celebration to welcome him back straight away, but they may do something in the summer. Prior to Archie’s operation, Kate launched her own campaign to draw attention to the issue of organ donation.
She created a moving video about the long wait for a new heart featuring family, friends and nursing staff. The video was watched by more than 300,000 people on Facebook, and Ant and Dec, who are involved with the Sick Children’s Trust, retweeted the film. Fundraising for the charity has also been a key focus for Kate, who completed the Great North Run in September in aid of the Sick Children’s Trust.
She has collected more than £4,400 for the charity and though her own fundraising page has now closed she would urge people to donate to the Children’s Heart Unit Fund.
Kate said: “People couldn’t have been more supportive with the fundraising we’ve done, I just can’t believe we raised that amount. I did the Great North Run and we’ve also had donations from people we don’t even know, who’d heard about Archie’s story.
“I have had messages from people who said they had never thought about organ donation before but had signed up after hearing about Archie. If we can get people to talk about it and sign up then that can only be a good thing.
“I feel very lucky that we were able to get a heart for Archie, not everyone gets the organ they need in time. We are just so grateful to the donor family.”
To donate to the Children’s Heart Unit Fund visit www.chuf.org.uk