Schoolgirl is first child in UK to get an artificial heart

Surgeons have implanted an artificial heart in a British child for the first time after doctors decided it was the only way to save her life.

Chloe Narbonne, then 12, had the device installed during a nine-hour operation at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London after a transplant heart failed.

Her medical team had the choice of keeping her on life-support while waiting for a second transplant, or performing the ‘extremely risky’ surgery.

She also became the first person in the world to be transferred between hospitals with her chest open ahead of the surgery in London, and was kept on an oxygen machine to save her life. 

The artificial heart then kept her alive until another human heart became available a few weeks later.

Chloe Narbonne, 12, pictured centre, is the first child in Britain to receive an artificial heart. Also pictured are surgeon Andre Simon, right, director of transplantation at Royal Brompton Hospital and Rachel Hards, left, artificial heart nurse specialist

Chloe Narbonne, 12, pictured centre, is the first child in Britain to receive an artificial heart. Also pictured are surgeon Andre Simon, right, director of transplantation at Royal Brompton Hospital and Rachel Hards, left, artificial heart nurse specialist

Chloe Narbonne, 12, pictured centre, is the first child in Britain to receive an artificial heart. Also pictured are surgeon Andre Simon, right, director of transplantation at Royal Brompton Hospital and Rachel Hards, left, artificial heart nurse specialist

While others have been linked up to a device known as a Berlin heart, which replicates the heart’s functions outside the body, Chloe is the youngest person in Europe to have had an artificial heart implanted.

The teenager from Worcester, who is now 13, told the Guardian: ‘I feel well, like my normal self, but not quite my normal self, not after what I’ve been through.

‘I guess the artificial heart was my lifesaver; it’s what kept me alive until I got another heart. What I’ve been through is life-changing.

‘Sometimes I get frustrated or upset that I can’t do certain things any more. I bump into things a lot and have to read some lines in a book a second time because a bleed on the brain has affected my peripheral vision, and I can’t do PE at school.

‘But it’s changed my perspective on life. Now I know that I have to grasp every moment.’ 

Chloe was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy when she was four weeks old, a condition in which the…

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