Summer gets gift of life for Christmas

Summer Carss
Summer Carss

A brave little girl has had a second heart transplant at just three years old.

Summer Carss is now recovering from the operation, a week ago yesterday, at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

And for the Shilbottle youngster’s family, it was the only present they wanted this Christmas.

Mum Julie said: “It’s amazing. We are still in shock as we were expecting another long wait for her call like last time.

“We have been given the best Christmas present ever.”

Summer was born with a condition affecting the left side of her heart.

Two years ago, on Christmas Day, she fell poorly with what seemed to be a chest infection.

But her parents, Julie and Paul, were told that she would need a heart transplant.

Summer and her family waited an agonising seven months before they got the call to say a heart had been found.

She had a transplant in September 2012 and was home in time for Christmas last year.

But in September, a year and a day after her first transplant, a routine clinic appointment found that all three arteries to her heart were nearly completely blocked.

Paul and Julie were then given the devastating news that their little girl would need a second heart transplant.

She was admitted to the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman and has been there ever since, celebrating her third birthday last month.

But last Wednesday, Summer’s parents received a call to say a heart was waiting.

Julie added: “The heart was a perfect match for her in size, tissue and everything, so she jumped up the list to get it.

“We can’t believe it, it is amazing and it is about time Summer had some luck.”

She is now in the paediatric intensive care unit and on a machine to rest the organ and help it to recover from the trauma of the transplant.

When she is well enough, Summer will be moved back to Ward 23 at the heart unit, where she will stay until she is fit enough to go home.

And for Summer, the heart came at just the right time.

Since September, she has been on a Berlin heart, an artificial organ, which is on the outside of her body.

This is regularly checked by nurses and doctors to make sure that it is working.

But while it was still doing its job, the artificial organ was starting to give Summer infections.

Julie added: “For the past week, she hasn’t been herself and the Berlin heart was taking its toll on her.

“Her cannulas were infected, which can be fatal.”

The condition from which Summer was suffering before the transplant was so rare that doctors had only seen it once before and that was in a child’s post-mortem.

It was more common in elderly patients.

They don’t know why it happened and they don’t know if it will happen again.

But Summer is being put on different medication to help her new heart and prevent the arteries from clogging up again.

And despite her condition, Summer has dealt with her it well.

Prior to having the transplant, Julie said: “She is just taking everything in her stride and is really chirpy.

“The only time she gets upset is when she has her dressings done. She’s such a little character and keeps the nurses entertained.”

Julie and Paul have been staying in family accommodation near the Freeman since Summer was admitted and have been with her everyday.

Summer’s transplant took place on Wednesday and they were able to see her at 5am the next day.

“We will be spending Christmas in hospital, but we have decided to have our Christmas when Summer comes home,” Julie said.

“Everyone at the Freeman is amazing and they treat you like family.

“They all love Summer and we are just looking forward to getting home next year.”

Once Summer is home, she will have to go back to the Freeman for weekly check-ups .