Toddler Oscar Dunkley has received a life-saving heart transplant.
The 20-month-old, from Bournemouth, Dorset, had nearly died several times.
His overjoyed mum Abbie Burkmar said: “He is a completely different child already. We are very grateful to the donor family.”
The youngster is no longer fed through a tube and is now learning what it is like to explore the outside world.
Abbie said: “The new heart is working really well. He is a completely different child already.”
Speaking about the parents who donated their child’s heart, she added: “Thank you isn’t anywhere near enough.
“They have saved Oscar’s life and changed all our lives.
“I hope they can find some comfort in what will be a horrible situation for them. It’s still so soon and I’m trying to deal with the emotions. Eventually I think we will write to the donor family, but right now they will need their space.
“I think of them all the time – especially when we have a nice day out with Oscar, which we couldn’t do when he couldn’t leave hospital. They must be going through so much…
“Oscar’s quality of life is 100% better. Before, he was being fed through a tube and he would always be sick – now he eats proper meals.
“Even just doing normal things like taking him with us on the food shop, he loves seeing all the products. He loves just getting out, and gets so excited just when he sees the car.”
Oscar was seriously ill with heart failure when his plight was featured on the front page of the Mirror in November.
He could have been days from death having narrowly survived weeks earlier when the powerful drugs keeping the organ beating nearly failed.
Oscar had been in hospital for months when his parents got the news they had longed for. Abbie said: “At 4am one morning we got a phone call.
“Oscar was taken to Great Ormond Street Hospital by ambulance in an hour, then he was in surgery.
“It took about eight hours then that day he had a new heart. We had waited so long then it all happened so quickly.
“We were in complete shock. He was sedated and had a lot of wires in him which was overwhelming. We were really emotional. We had come so close to losing him so many times and I knew another family had lost their child and chosen to do this.”
Abbie, 24, believes the Mirror’s successful Change the Law for Life campaign on organ donation helped her son get his life-saving gift.
She said: “I think that was a big factor in why Oscar got his new heart.”
After his surgery the little lad spent eight days in intensive care – but he is accustomed to battling.
Aged four months he was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy – meaning parts of the heart are enlarged and the organ cannot pump blood properly.
It is the same condition that affected Max Johnson, the 10-year-old lad who fronted the Mirror’s campaign.
Oscar’s condition was managed until last September when he was taken to hospital with suspected bronchitis.
His parents were then given the devastating news he was having heart failure and his life was in serious danger.
Oscar, who has a four-year-old brother Jack, lived at Southampton General Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London for five months, with dad Josh and mum Abbie taking turns to be at his bedside.
The parents backed our campaign, and the legislation, a private members’ bill introduced by Labour’s Geoffrey Robinson, gained royal assent in March.
It means adults in England will be classed as having agreed to be organ donors unless they opt out.
It comes into force in 2020 and will be named Max and Keira’s Law in honour of Mirror lad Max and Keira Ball, the girl whose heart is now pumping in his chest.
NHS Blood and Transplant figures revealed to the Mirror show 23 people died waiting for a transplant in the two months after it became law in March, and 868 patients were added to the waiting list.
Children needing a new heart typically wait two-and-a-half times as long as adults, because bereaved parents are less likely to agree to the organs being donated. Last year 426 patients died while on the waiting list – 17 were kids.
Donors and their relatives are anonymous but, via the health authorities, Oscar’s parents could make contact with the donor family if they were to agree.
Abbie said: “I’m hoping maybe in a year or so we’ll be able to write to them and tell them how well Oscar is doing.”
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