Jessica's heart transplant
“A heart transplant saved our daughters life when she was nine months old. Jessica was born with two major heart conditions. She survived eight months on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit. Their expertise, skills and knowledge kept our daughter alive while she waited on an organ donor heart. She was so sick and it was a battle to keep her alive. I basically lived here during that time because our home is in Monaghan, so it was too far to travel and I didn’t want to leave her. Jessica has an older brother Daniel, he was three while she was in hospital, so it was really tough on him. A hard year for all of us. My family were amazing minding him, because I couldn’t be there. Jessica's consultant Dr Orla Franklin and Clinical Nurse Specialist Helene have always stood by us. We all work together as a team making sure Jessica has the best quality of life.
Jessica held onto life waiting on her new special heart and I think we held onto Jessica even tighter. Every day we sat by her side, hoping. The waiting was so difficult. After seven months on the active heart transplant list, the call came early one morning from a hospital in the UK. A matching donor heart became available. It was honestly one of the greatest moments of my life. Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin got her ready and she was flown to the UK for her life saving transplant. Jessica's new heart has thrived ever since. Three years have passed by now. We’ve had three extra special years of pure love and joy with our daughter thanks to organ donation.
Jessica has faced many difficulties since transplant in other areas, however all the teams from Cardiology, Phlebotomy, Intensive Care Unit 1 Team, Emergency Department, X-ray, Dentistry, Immunology, GI, Dieticians, Speech and Language, Genetics, Audiology, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, ENT, Ophthalmology and Respiratory have all worked very closely with Jessica to give her the best quality of life possible. Everyone was amazing, simply amazing!
“We’ve just spent almost four weeks in the Children’s Heart Centre, OLCHC. We are preparing Jessica for home again. We are so looking forward to being home as a family. That’s my dream – all of us being home together. Jessica will miss Carol who cleans her room, Janet, Joanne, Sinead and Marie who serve Jessica fresh food, they all chatted and sang to her. She’ll also miss Clair, the play specialist, who always puts a smile on Jessica's face through play therapy. As for all the doctors and nurses who are involved in Jessica's care in the Children’s Heart Centre, they go above and beyond to keep Jessica at the best she can be. No doubt we will see them all again very soon as Jessica will have weekly appointments to ensure she keeps well. She lights up when she sees the staff. They’re like family now at this stage.
To any parent waiting by their child's side while they endure the difficult wait and journey for a heart transplant, hold onto the hope. Sometimes hope is all you have, but it keeps you strong. It makes you think that tomorrow will be better. Sometimes you need that hope to live.”
- Elaine McMahon, 3-year-old Jessica’s mum.