06 June 2013
The youngest patient in Britain to be fitted with a mini-defibrillator is enjoying a new lease of life after a heart transplant.
Carina Marcangelo was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy — a disease which damages the heart muscle — at only five months old. At nine months, after collapsing at home, she had the defibrillator fitted to shock her heart out of any dangerous rhythm.
Now 15 months, she is back home with her family in Esher after her nine-hour transplant.
The defibrillator was fitted at Royal Brompton Hospital while she went on the transplant list. Then in April Carina was taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital for surgery.
Her parents said they had prepared themselves for the worst if a heart could not be found. Carina’s father, Darren, 40, said: “The doctors had told us they didn’t know what to do next — but we were never going to give up on her.” Post-surgery, doctors acted quickly to stop potentially fatal bleeding. Carina suffered a large blood clot behind her knee, but is recovering.
Mr Marcangelo said: “They initially said there was no hope for her leg. It was horrendous.”
After six weeks at the hospital, the family went home for the late May bank holiday but Carina was taken to Kingston hospital with breathing difficulties and a chest infection. Three days later, on antibiotics, she went home, where her sister Emily, four, had made a giant “Welcome home” banner.
The family are very hopeful after a biopsy showed no sign of the heart being rejected. Her mother, Nicole, 36, said: “We can be a family again. It would not have happened without that family who donated their child’s heart.”
The Marcangelos will attend a fun run for Great Ormond Street at Battersea Park on Sunday to raise awareness about organ donation. Mrs Marcangelo said: “It is just to make sure people think and talk about it as a family. It is such a taboo subject.”