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article imageThe heart transplant funded by UK's National Health Service Special

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By Amanda Mueller     Aug 17, 2009 in Politics
Right now in the United States, the current debate on universal health care has caused town hall meetings to become shouting matches and lobby groups to take special interests in the health care systems of other countries, particularly England.
National Health Service (NHS) has been called a recruitment tool for terrorist by American Jerry Bowyer, columnist for the National Review Online, to a broken system leaving those who need medical treatment with urgency waiting months. Assertions made by those American critics have left British citizens wondering if they are even talking about the same National Health System that has taken care of them since 1948.
Darren Mitchell was an ordinary young boy in Standlake, England, getting dirty playing in the mud, catching worms, and spending a lot of time fishing. A quiet child, one often keeping to himself, the only difficulties Darren had occurred as an infant, when an allergy to formula required a dietary change to soy. One day, at the age of twelve, life changed for Darren and his family. After spending a weekend ill in bed sleeping, Darren complained to his parents, Tony and Lorraine, about severe pains in his stomach. The pain increased and fearing that it was his appendix by what Darren had described, Lorraine called the General Practitioner, who made a house call for Darren's examination. A concerned doctor informed Tony and Lorraine that Darren's heart was beating too fast and an EKG would need to be administered to him at the hospital.
The EKG produced results that would forever change the life of Darren and his family, causing the doctor to send him immediately by ambulance to the children's hospital, where he underwent a battery of tests, staying the night at the hospital, to be diagnosed the next day with irreversible Acute Cardiomyopathy. After an extended stay at the children's hospital where they treated him with medication and hormones, Darren was released to his home, only to rushed again by ambulance when his symptoms returned. After Darren was stabilized, his family was informed that his only odds for survival was to get a heart transplant and they were sent to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital in London for a week of testing to see if Darren was ill enough to be placed upon the transplant list. Aside from side effects from pain, Darren was still doing quite well and an appointment was scheduled in one month's time to check on his progress, returning him to the local children's hospital for three weeks time in hope to keep Darren stabilized.
In trying to keep Darren's body stabilized, a medication was used to help the body perform as it should. Unfortunately, Darren could only be on this mediation one week at a time. When he left the hospital, his health began to deteriorate once more. When they returned to Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital for his appointment, the testing that week performed he was ill enough to be placed upon the transplant list and now he would need to remain hospitalized at the local children's hospital he had originally been seen at until a heart became available.
The call came for Darren to undergo his transplant and with a police escort, he was sent in ambulance once more to Great Ormond Children Hospital in London. This time, however, he would be getting his new heart, providing it was a match. Once he arrived, he was ushered into the operating room where tests needed to be performed to insure the heart was a match. It was. He was in surgery for four hours and after he was placed inside a bubble for forty-eight hours to insure his immune system would not get compromised in it's fragile state. While Darren was at Great Ormond, his family were staying across the street from the hospital in an apartment building for parents of children. They paid nothing for their stay. A week after his surgery, Darren was allowed to go home. Two weeks after his surgery, Darren was back in school. He went to London every week for two months so he could be monitored and so his medication could be adjusted as time went on. Today he spends two days in the hospital every March to undergo a physical and meets with doctors every September at the Harefield Hospital in London for a check up and has blood work done there every two months with the nurses. He takesanti-rejection and immunosuppressant medication. There are no waits to see a doctor: appointments are made after his visits are done. Darren is now twenty-one.
In the nine years that Darren was first seen until his yearly check-ups now, Darren's family have not received a single bill. The only expense to Darren or his family have been lost wages when he was hospitalized for such a great time. He pays nothing for medication, but if he did, it would cost roughly $10 per prescription. Aside from having to monitor any type of possible rejection of his heart, Darren is a normal 21 year old boy who enjoys fishing at the lake and playing video games with his brother. It is because of NHS, the system widely criticized in the media by someone who knows someone who knows someone, that Darren is alive today.
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