Girl with deadly heart condition home for Christmas after transplant

·4 min read
Tanesha Ives is celebrating after recovering from a heart transplant in time for Christmas. (SWNS)
Tanesha Ives is celebrating after recovering from a heart transplant in time for Christmas. (SWNS)

A 12-year-old with a life-threatening heart condition has received the "best present ever" after a successful transplant allowed her to return home in time for Christmas.

Tanesha Ives, from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was born with complete atrioventricular septal defect, a condition that created holes between the right and left sides of her heart.

The condition meant she needed life-saving heart surgery when she was just five weeks old and had a permanent pacemaker fitted when she was just 18 months.

It also means the school girl has been in an out of hospital all her life.

When doctors made the difficult decision to do a risky heart transplant this year, Tanesha spent most of November 100 miles from her friends and family.

Read more: Mum who had a heart attack aged 45 warns women to look out for the symptoms she ignored

The 12-year-old has been in and out of hospital all her life. (SWNS)
The 12-year-old has been in and out of hospital all her life. (SWNS)

The youngster had resigned herself to spending the festive period confined to her hospital bed in Newcastle. 

Thankfully, however, after recovering from surgery, she's now able to spend Christmas at home and can’t wait to spend the festive period with her mum Amanda Bell and sister Ashante, six.

"It is great to be home for Christmas and be a normal kid,” Tanesha said.

Tanesha's medical issues started at birth when doctors discovered she had a condition that created holes between the right and left sides of her heart.

More problems surfaced later when she needed a permanent pacemaker fitted aged 18 months and later caught life-threatening sepsis following further heart surgery.

Watch: Meet the young woman who can see her heart beat through her chest

Despite these difficulties, Tanesha continued to make steady progress health-wise until 2015 when she had another scare when she stopped breathing in her sleep.

“I was up breastfeeding my younger daughter at the time when she stopped breathing," her mum, 47, recalls. 

"She’s usually a noisy breather in her sleep, and I couldn’t hear her.

“I shook her and started screaming her name, and she started to fit. I just grabbed her and rushed her to the hospital.”

Read more: Eating oily fish linked to reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes

Tanesha Ives had a heart transplant earlier this year. (SWNS)
Tanesha Ives had a heart transplant earlier this year. (SWNS)
Tanesha Ives pictured during her long and painful treatment for a heart defect. (SWNS)
Tanesha Ives pictured during her long and painful treatment for a heart defect. (SWNS)

At the end of 2019, Tanesha’s health deteriorated again and doctors began to raise the possibility of a heart transplant, despite it being a risky procedure. 

Specialist surgeons at Freeman Hospital Children's Heart Unit, in Newcastle, later found that her heart was failing and fast-tracked her for a transplant in 2021.

On October 25, the family got the call that a donor was available and the procedure to replace Tanesha’s faulty heart had to take place immediately, 100 miles from her home.

“They rang me up at 6:45 in the morning and told me to get to the ward for 8am. I didn’t find out until 11:15am that it was going to be a go," Tanesha's mother continues.

“They gave her the immunosuppressant pills, gave her the antibiotics, got her in the gown, all done and at 2:15, all the surgeons came for her.

“I was scared, I was crying, I was a mess, to be honest. But I was trying to keep calm for her.

"Tanesha was screaming: 'I don’t want to go to sleep again mummy. Stop them. Help me'.

“She’s 12 so she knew some of the risks. It was hard to watch it. But she came out of the surgery fighting.”

Even though Tanesha soon managed to move out of the intensive care ward, her mum had concerns that she wouldn’t make it home for the festive period.

“I did worry she wouldn’t come home for Christmas," she says.

“All the nurses kept saying 'Ooh you may be home for Christmas, you know!' and Tanesha was like 'I bet I’m not going to be'."

Read more: Premature baby born 15 weeks early and weighing just 1lb 6oz is home in time for Christmas

Tanesha Ives, 12, (left)with mum Amanda Bell and sister Ashante, 6. (SWNS)
Tanesha Ives, 12, (left)with mum Amanda Bell and sister Ashante, 6. (SWNS)

So when doctors finally gave Tanesha the all-clear to head home to spend the holidays with her sister and mother it was a massive relief.

“We are grateful to the donor, and we think about them every day. This wouldn’t have happened without their family," Tanesha's mother continues. 

“It’s just such a big relief to have her home for Christmas.

“That’s all we were aiming for – just to have her home and to have Christmas, just me and my girls in the house at home and being together on Christmas morning.”

Additional reporting SWNS.

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