Heart swap girl, 11, returns home

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THE PARENTS of Britain's youngest heart and kidney transplant patient yesterday spoke of their joy as she returned home to recuperate.

Kay Gadsby, 11, beat cancer through chemotherapy only to find out her heart and kidneys were failing. Following months waiting for transplant donors she finally underwent an operation at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle and began the long journey of recovery.

She has now returned home to Wakefield, West Yorkshire, two months after the operation in July, and is looking forward to taking up her favourite hobby as a majorette. Before she had her operation, the youngest person to undergo a combined heart and kidney transplant was 18.

Kay was diagnosed as having bone cancer in her left leg at the age of seven. She had a course of chemotherapy at St James's Hospital, Leeds. Following an operation to remove a tumour and infected bone, then replace it with a titanium strut, it was hoped she could begin to lead a normal life.

Her father, Russell, told how her kidneys and heart began failing but she could not undergo a transplant as it was not certain if she was clear of cancer.

He said: "Her heart muscles had been damaged by the chemotherapy. At the beginning of the year she was deteriorating so fast that the doctor asked for her to be assessed again for a transplant operation."

Her mother, Kay, said friends and the thought of resuming her hobby as a majorette kept her going. She said: "Her friends from the majorettes visited her every day. She had her uniform hung up in hospital. She was staring at it, and she said she was going to get better so she could put it on again."

Lynne Holt, clinical co-ordinator for Freeman Hospital's heart and lung unit, said the hospital was "very pleased" with Kay's progress.