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Sunday, 28 December 2014

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Georgina, 15, undergoes lifesaving heart op

A TEENAGE girl is recovering in hospital after a four-hour lifesaving heart transplant.

Barrow-born Georgina Powell, 15, was on death’s door in dire need of a new heart. All her family could do was watch as her heart and lungs failed. But her parents Gary Powell and Sandra Manea were given fresh hope on Thursday when news came of a potential heart.

The pair’s hopes were then dashed when the heart was not compatible with their dying daughter.

But only a few hours later another donor heart was found and the teenager was wheeled into emergency surgery on Friday.

Her loving dad has stayed by her bedside for a week, sleeping in a camper van outside Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where the surgery was carried out. Speaking yesterday, he said: “The operation was a success and she is really strong.

“I thought it would be days and days but they are thinking of taking her off the ventilators. The physio has been to see her and they are trying to get her to walk around.

“She is writing messages down to people when they come in, saying hello. Her progress is fantastic.”

Mr Powell, who runs the Walney Kitesurfing School in Walney, said the heart came following a car crash on Thursday night.

He said the lifesaving surgeon rushed to retrieve the organ before returning to carry out the operation.

Mr Powell, 46, of Black Butts Lane, Walney, added: “I fainted when they wheeled her into the operating theatre.

“She was having a heart operation and she asked them to look after me. She is so cheerful.

“It is only when you are in need of a donor organ you realise how much of a shortage there is.

“I really would urge people to sign up to the register.”

The teenager has been waiting for a donor heart since being admitted to the Freeman Hospital on July 19.

Mr Powell said: “We got news of a heart at around 6pm on Thursday.

“The team went out but then said it wasn’t a match for Georgina.

“But when they were on their way back from that accident they got another call about another accident and possible heart, which was a match for her.

“They said that never happens, it’s really unusual.

“There is also a little baby in the bed next to Georgina in the hospital who has now got a heart too in the same night, it is really amazing.”

Georgina developed a heart condition called dilated cardiomyopathy as a baby.

Despite doctors telling her parents their daughter would not survive past childhood, the youngster battled on and even celebrated her 15th birthday at a restaurant in Morecambe in April.

But in the last month her condition deteriorated.

Georgina, who wants to be a nurse, was taken from Lancaster General Infirmary to Aldey Hey Hospital in Liverpool.

But the teenager’s health declined even more and she was rushed to the cardiac unit in Newcastle.

Georgina’s granddad, Ray Powell, said: “It is a sorrowful situation when something like this has to happen for someone you care about to survive.

“She didn’t have long left. She had failure of her lungs as well as her heart and her parents have had to watch her deteriorate.

“We are just keeping our fingers crossed. I haven’t seen her since she was in Liverpool.

“Because of her condition only her parents are allowed to see her.

“But when I saw her she was cheerful even through all the trouble, she is a bonnie little girl.”

Georgina attended St Bernard’s Catholic High School in Barrow with her twin sister Samantha, before moving away with her mother 18 months ago.

She also has a three-year-old sister Khadijah and two older sisters, Nikki, 30 and Zoe, 27.

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