DANIELLA WHITE – October 4, 2013, 7:15 pm
Rebecca Peters is part of a small but close-knit club.
Along with 115 others she has the Royal Children’s Hospital’s pioneering heart transplant service, which marked its 25-year anniversary in Melbourne on Friday, to thank for her life.
“It’s an incredible milestone because in the scheme of things it’s within a lot of people’s lifetimes and the outcomes keep getting better and better,” Ms Peters said.
Ms Peters received her life-saving transplant just two days after her seventh birthday.
Fourteen years later, she’s back at the hospital working as a mentor to adolescent patients.
“I’m living the dream. I’m giving something back to young people who have been through similar journeys.”
Nadia Cozmescu and Tyler Aerey, who received heart transplants in 2009 and 2010, are now being mentored by Ms Peters.
“I think it’s always good to have that connection with other people who have gone through it. It makes the whole experience a whole lot easier because it’s a really scary thing,” Nadia said.
Ms Peters hopes the anniversary will put a spotlight on organ donation.
“One of the problems with the low organ donation rates is that Australians don’t know much about it and they just don’t get around to filling out the forms,” she said.
The hospital’s former director of cardiac surgery Roger Mee completed the first paediatric heart transplant in Australia back in 1988.
He remembers the day clearly.
His colleague was in England at the time and as a result Dr Mee had to do the job of two teams by himself.
“The CEO drove me in his car and I picked up the donor heart, then I came back and put it in the patient,” Dr Mee said.
Paediatric transplant surgery has come a long way since Dr Mee’s pioneering first transplant.
Few know this better than Samantha McGowan, the mother of four-year-old transplant recipient Scarlett.
In 2009 Scarlett was the recipient of Australia’s first paediatric ABO incompatible heart transplant.
After going into end-stage cardiac failure, baby Scarlett was listed for transplant with a heart from an incompatible blood type to increase the chance of finding a suitable donor.
“Scarlett behaves like any other four-year-old now, so much so that most people are in disbelief when they hear her story,” Samantha said.
via Heart transplant milestone at Vic hospital – Yahoo!7.