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One year old Zariah receives lifesaving donor heart after seven month wait

News   •   Jan 19, 2018 15:53 GMT

After filming BBC Lifeline, Leeander received a call to say there was a donor heart available for her daughter.

The family of a little girl with heart failure have had the best start to 2018, after she has received a lifesaving heart transplant.

Leeander Barrett, from Glasgow, is appearing on BBC Lifeline, airing on Sunday 21 January at 3.15pm, in an appeal presented by renowned actor Michael Crawford CBE on behalf of The Sick Children’s Trust.

In the programme, Leeander shares her agonising experiences after her daughter, Zariah, was diagnosed with a complex heart defect which left her in desperate need of a lifesaving heart transplant. Since Lifeline was made, Leeander received the call she was anxiously waiting for, to say a donor heart had been found for Zariah.

During the filming for BBC Lifeline, Michael Crawford, who is the President of The Sick Children’s Trust, met Leeander at Newcastle upon Tyne’s Freeman Hospital as she faced an unbearable wait for a lifesaving donor heart for her daughter. Leeander told Michael how during Zariah’s treatment in Newcastle she had been by her daughter’s hospital bedside every day, despite being over 150 miles from home, thanks to The Sick Children’s Trust’s free ‘Home from Home’ accommodation. Leeander who is currently being supported at the charity’s Scott House says:

“The Sick Children’s Trust’s ‘Home from Home’ Scott House and all that comes with it has been invaluable. Scott House is just a few minutes’ walk from the hospital and is the place where I am if I’m not on the children’s heart unit.

“When Zariah was first diagnosed back home in Glasgow, I had to travel an hour and a half every day to be by her side on public transport. Taxis were too expensive and I just couldn’t afford it. As Zariah’s condition deteriorated, I would sleep in the hospital chairs or sit in the waiting room. And on the day I did go home, that’s when she nearly died.

“In Newcastle though, I am only ever minutes away from her because of The Sick Children’s Trust’s Scott House.”

After meeting Michael and filming for the BBC Lifeline appeal, Zariah began to deteriorate. And all Leeander was wishing for was a heart for her daughter. She continues:

“Zariah was so poorly. She wasn’t sleeping or feeding. It was clear that with every passing day her health was getting worse. One night I left Scott House to go and try to get her to sleep, when one of the hospital staff approached me. She told me that she was arranging a transplant. And it was for Zariah. I was in shock. We had been waiting so long for a heart to become available that I didn’t believe it at first – I thought it was for someone else.

“Since her operation, Zariah has gone from strength to strength. We are able to take her out of the hospital and over to Scott House which is a huge step for us. Everyone’s really pleased with how her recovery is progressing, especially as the transplant was very high risk. I’m just so glad she got her heart. I can’t thank the team at Freeman Hospital enough for saving my girl’s life.

“Throughout all of this emotional turmoil, it has been such a comfort to know that I have a home at Scott House, just minutes from my daughter’s side. So I would like to say a huge thank you to The Sick Children’s Trust for helping me be there every single day for the last eight months.”

Leeander, along with other families across the country, will appear in BBC Lifeline this Sunday at 3.15pm to tell the nation about the vital work of The Sick Children’s Trust.

The Sick Children’s Trust relies entirely on voluntary donations to keep its ten ‘Homes from Home’ running. It costs the charity £30 to support a family for one night and every year it supports around 4,000 families with seriously ill children in hospital, keeping them just minutes from their child’s hospital bedside. President Michael Crawford CBE, who has been supporting the charity for over 30 years, says:

“The Sick Children’s Trust is a remarkable charity in both the simplicity of its mission and the huge impact its work has on families and children.

“I still remember to this day being left alone on a hospital ward as a child after I underwent surgery to remove my tonsils. I was terrified as I waited for my mother to collect me, a wait that felt like an eternity. The relief when she walked through the doors and gave me a kiss and a hug was overwhelming. That worry is a feeling I do not want any child to ever have to endure.

“That’s why I support The Sick Children’s Trust and remain so committed to this cause. As a charity, we are working towards a future where every child will be able to have their family by their side as they undergo treatment in hospital.

“Thank you to everyone who watches the BBC Lifeline appeal and helps us provide such vital comfort to so many children across the UK.”

Watch The Sick Children’s Trust BBC Lifeline on Sunday on BBC One at 3.15pm.To find out more about the charity and the families it supports, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09pw6gp

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