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UK: "I'm feeling brilliant says Hannah Jones, the girl who wanted to die, then got a new heart"

Aug. 17th, 2009 - "Brave Hannah Jones, the teenager who wanted to die, yesterday spoke for the first time since she was fitted with a new heart and declared: 'I feel brilliant.'

The 14-year-old overturned a legal bid to make her have a life-saving heart transplant operation last January. She decided she wanted to die peacefully at home with her family instead.
But another kidney failure last month forced her to change her mind and speaking from her hospital bed after the successful operation, she said: 'I'm tired but I feel brilliant compared to before. It seems really weird because I can feel the heart beating in my chest much stronger than before - and I know it's different. I can also feel my pulse better and I can feel the blood being pumped up through my body into my neck. I'm still quite nervous but I'm really glad it's all over.'

Hannah had spent much of the last eight years cooped up on hospital wards, battling leukaemia and crippling cardiomyopathy."

"Despite six operations in the last two years, her heart was still only working at 10 per cent capacity. She was adamant she could not face any more surgery - even when doctors gave her just six months to live. But last month her young life was in grave danger of slipping away when she wound up in hospital yet again with partial kidney failure. Within days of consenting to the transplant operation, Hannah was taken to London's Great Ormond Street Hospital and given a new heart in a six-and-a-half hour operation. After the surgery she was kept under sedation for more than a week and spent a fortnight in intensive care. But now, at long last, she is finally on the road to recovery. And the brave teen is now able to plan for the future and already has a wish list. She explained: 'The thing I'm most looking forward to is getting out of hospital and going home to be with all my family. I also want to see my cat Tails McFluff because I've really missed him. I can't wait to see all my friends again as well and get back to school and have a normal life. My big dream is to go on holiday next summer and swim in the sea with my little sister Phoebe.' The operation, carried out three weeks ago, has been hailed as a total success.
Hannah's condition is improving day by day and it is believed the organ could add 25 years to Hannah's life. Hannah's parents are now hoping doctors may allow the teenager to return to the family home in Marden, Herefordshire, this week. It will be a huge relief for the couple, who also have three younger children. Speaking from Hannah's bedside, mum Kirsty, 43, a former hospital nursing sister, said yesterday: 'Hannah was really quiet before the operation and was very nervous. The last thing she said to me before the anaesthetic kicked in was, I love you mum.'

When she woke up 10 days later she couldn't talk to start off with but the first thing she managed to say out loud was 'drink' because she was thirsty. The doctors have said her recovery is going brilliantly so far which is fantastic and it's just a waiting game really.
'It will be fabulous to have all the family reunited back at home where we belong. I'm really looking forward to that.'
Dad Andrew, 44, an auditor, also revealed Hannah's reason for changing her mind over the transplant operation.

He said: 'Hannah's change of mind came because she has enjoyed her life so much over the last year that she wanted more of it. I'm obviously really happy with her decision but me and her mum didn't put any pressure on her - we just gave her all the options and offered support. I'm over the moon that the transplant was a success but it was a major operation and she has someone else's heart inside her so she's just trying to get used to that. At the moment I think she's more worried about me and Kirsty worrying than she is about herself. We are just taking it day by day but our dream of getting her back to school is coming closer and closer and that's certainly Hannah's intention. She also wants to see her friends again - they are always asking after her and sending her letters and cards but it's not the same as seeing each other. When the battling teenager gets stronger she aims to finish a book - called Hannah's Choice - which she is writing with her mum. It will be published by HarperCollins next March. Her sudden about-turn over the transplant operation was sparked by her latest health crisis on July 12 - five days after she celebrated her 14th birthday with brother Oliver, 12, and sisters Lucy, 11, and Phoebe, five. Hannah suffered renal failure and her kidneys suddenly stopped working. She was rushed to hospital but could not receive dialysis because her heart - which was only beating on one side - was too weak to cope with the treatment. It meant Hannah had no option but to go back on the transplant list or risk total kidney failure and certain death. She was placed at the top of the transplant list and had the lifesaving operation. The identity of the heart donor has not been revealed."


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