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article imageNew heart for girl, 14, who wanted to die

By Chris Dade     Jul 29, 2009 in Health
A teenage girl who fought for her right to refuse a heart transplant is reported to have finally undergone the operation, after being flown by helicopter from her home in the West of England to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
In November 2008, then 13-year-old Hannah Jones made the headlines when, confronted by the fact that her heart was growing weak through the treatment she was receiving for leukemia, she decided that she did not want to have the transplant which may save her life.
Saying that she could not be certain a transplant operation would be successful and that she was tired from all the time she had already spent in hospital Hannah wanted instead to have a dignified end to her life, spending her last days with her family. It was a decision in which she was supported by her mother Kirsty and father Andrew.
A legal battle threatened to ensue as Hannah's local health authority, the Herefordshire Primary Care Trust, went to the High Court in an effort to force her to have the operation she was determined would not take place. As the BBC reports it was only when a child protection officer gave their report on Hannah's case and confirmed her determination not to undergo surgery that the authorities decided not to proceed with their case.
On July 12, Hannah celebrated her 14th birthday. But less than a week later she suffered partial failure of her kidney. Unfortunately the dialysis she required to treat that failure could not be administered because her heart was not strong enough to sustain her through the process.
Faced with either undergoing the transplant operation she had always rejected or allowing nature to take its course, which would have meant her death through total kidney failure, Hannah decided that she should give herself the chance to live.
Once Hannah notified the doctors that she wanted to have a transplant after all, the seriousness of her condition ensured that she went straight to the top of the transplant list. According to the The Sun newspaper it was also decided by doctors that the operation would take place at the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, which is located in Central London.
The hospital, whilst maintaining that the need to protect the "privacy and dignity of the donor family" prevents them from commenting on individual cases, has nevertheless confirmed that Hannah is in their care.
As her parents remain by her bedside, a friend of the family has spoken of their hopes for Hannah:She's a brave kid and everyone is praying she makes a full recovery. But it's a major operation and it will be a few days before she is out of the woods
Hannah is clearly a very special young lady who made a very brave decision last year about her future, knowing full well that it may not be a long future at all. She has now made an equally brave decision to enter the operating theater, thereby giving herself at least a fighting chance of spending many more years with her loving family.
And nobody can explain Hannah's latest decision better than Hannah herself. This is what she had to say after notifying the doctors and, more importantly, her mother and father of her change of heart:The right side of my heart isn't beating at all. And after lots of tests I realised there were more benefits to having a new heart to staying like I was. If I had a new heart I'd be on less tablets than I am at the moment. I take 27 but afterwards it would only be about 12. I know I decided I definitely didn't want this but everyone is entitled to change their mind
More about Heart transplant, Britain, Great ormond street
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