Marley Scott is seven years old, but last week was the first time the cheeky little boy got to go outside during playtime. The Independent’s Give to GOSH appeal has followed Marley as he’s recovered from his heart transplant and was able to return to his home in Dagenham, east London, late last year.
Last week saw the latest milestone in Marley’s recovery with his first day back at school, where he rejoined his Year Two class and was able to play outside with his classmates for the first time.
His mum, Joanna, says: “At the moment he’s just back for the mornings but he was so happy on his first day back that we hope that might change soon. He played in the playground for the first time. He could never do that before. It’s such a big thing and he had the best day ever. It’s a really big step mentally for both of us to get him back to school.”
Marley was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy when he was four and in the short time he spent at school before being admitted to GOSH he was too sick to play football or run around during break times.
Last week though, he was the centre of attention, as he confidently answered his classmates’ questions about his new heart.
His classmates were quick to ask what his operation was like. “When I woke up, my mum told me I’d been asleep for three days because they took my old heart out,” says Marley, before lifting up his school jumper to proudly show off his scars.
As Marley’s condition improves – he still has pain in his legs from his anti-rejection medication – he will extend his school day, but Joanna says she is not worried about him falling behind as he was given one-on-one tuition at GOSH and his school assigned a liaison teacher to make sure he got home tuition where possible.
She says: “He was happy and energetic when I picked him up, whereas he never really liked school before his transplant as he was so tired. I know he’s a little behind but he’s bright and it won’t take long for him to get back into the swing of things.”
In her darkest days at GOSH waiting for Marley to get a new heart, his mum admits she feared he might not survive, but she accepted that “some things in life are out of your control”. Life after GOSH has also taken some adjustment. “It’s just so bizarre. Marley is seven and he’s never done a full day at school, so I’m excited but also scared. I’m getting those feelings that other parents got when their children were four or five.”
Marley still needs regular check-ups at GOSH, not least as there is no guarantee of long-term success for such major procedures, but his mother is thankful for his “second chance” and “full of praise” for GOSH. She says she wants to say a “massive thank you” to the Independent readers who have donated to the Christmas appeal, which has now raised more than £3m with two weeks still to run. She says: “It’s amazing to know that children with cardiac problems in the future will have the opportunity to be looked after so well by the staff at GOSH. Without GOSH my son wouldn’t have been given a second chance.”
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