Five-year-old Kit Matthews has been given the gift of life after a life-saving heart transplant at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
Kit, who is now home with his mum, dad and younger brother Monty received his transplant after spending months in hospital, part of which involved him having a starring role in a television series which was being made at the time.
Kit first became unwell after a weekend of Easter egg hunts last year.
“He’s usually so full of energy and spent Good Friday running around the garden. He woke up the next day and was off his food – he didn’t even want chocolate!” said mum Hannah.
After two weeks of not eating, Kit was taken to his local hospital where a chest X-ray revealed he had an enlarged heart and would need an urgent transplant – the same condition that caused his dad, Joe, to undergo a heart transplant 15 years earlier.
This devastating diagnosis completely changed normal everyday life for the Matthews, with Kit transferred from his home in Retford to the children’s heart unit in Newcastle where he was fitted with a Berlin Heart while he waited for a new heart.
“Thankfully, the support Kit was getting from the Berlin Heart meant that he was relatively stable, so trying to entertain a bright 4 year old in a confined space was a struggle. We are forever indebted to the play team and nursing staff on Ward 23 for their help with this.”
It was during his time on the ward that Kit became involved in the filming of a brand new documentary series for Channel 4 – Geordie Hospital – and his story is featured in episode 1.
Viewers see the little boy being fitted with a new mobile Berlin Heart driving device by consultant in paediatric cardiovascular intensive care medicine, Dr Emma Simpson.
Traditionally, the Berlin Heart is powered by a large heavy machine which can only be unplugged from the mains for around half an hour at a time making it impossible for Kit to leave the hospital and live any sort of normal life.
That all changes in the episode when he is switched to a much smaller portable device, given him the opportunity to get out of the hospital for the first time in months.
Dad Joe said: “Kit is the most energetic, adventurous, free spirit there is so being stuck in hospital was extremely difficult for us all.”
Following his transplant, Kit returned home and is now enjoying getting back to normal.
“Seeing Kit thrive now is surreal; it’s hard to believe the position we were in 8 months ago.”
The family will be forever grateful to the family that made the decision to donate their child’s organ, Joe Said: “To be given this amazing gift has been the best thing we could ever have hoped for. We just can’t thank the family of his donor enough, for being brave enough to donate their loved one’s organ.
“It has given Kit a new chance at life and we will never forget that.”