Agonising wait for heart tot parents

Summer Carss in the Freeman Hospital.
Summer Carss in the Freeman Hospital.

The family of a seriously ill toddler from Alnwick have spoken of their agony as they wait for the donor heart that could save her life.

Summer Carss has been waiting for a transplant at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital for more than six months.

The tot, aged 20 months, was born with a condition affecting the valve on the left side of her heart, but her condition worsened at the end of last year and complications from a chest infection caused her to suffer cardiac arrest.

Her parents Paul and Julie were told she would need the life-saving operation at the end of January.

“She came in around Christmas time with a simple cold and it just affected her heart,” said Paul.

The couple have been staying at the hospital to be close to her since she was first admitted.

The toddler’s condition is currently stable and she is out of intensive care, but it is vital that a new heart is found soon.

And suitable donors are difficult to find as she is so small.

“She’s in the best place she could be now,” said Paul.

“We’re just waiting for the heart to come along, waiting for that phone call. It could be tonight, it could be in two weeks, could be longer.

“It’s just a waiting game. If they could give a time it would be fine, but they can’t. They’re just trying to keep her in the best condition possible.”

Earlier this year, Summer was fitted with a revolutionary device known as a Berlin heart, an ‘artificial heart’ that pumps the blood around her body.

But it is only a temporary solution – and she has now been on it longer than any other child at the Freeman has before.

Paul, 35, who works at the Plumb Centre in Alnwick, paid tribute to the ‘fantastic’ staff at the Freeman.

“They’ve been brilliant. Words cannot describe it, they’ve been fantastic. We can’t fault them for anything.” he said.