11/04/2012 07:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Little Joe Gets New Heart After Record Wait Of 251 Days

Little Joe Spent Record Time With Artificial Heart
A three-year-old boy has been kept alive with an artificial heart for a record 251 days.

Joe Skerratt from Gillingham, Kent, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which meant his heart struggled to pump blood around his body.

He was temporarily fitted with a "Berlin heart", to give his own a helping hand.

After a wait of more than eight months, he finally had a heart transplant last year.

Joe's mother, Rachel, told the BBC, "we started to see his character coming back" after he was fitted with the Berlin heart.

But this was the start of a long wait for a heart donor.

"When Joe passed the 200 day mark on the Berlin heart we started to really question what else could be done if a heart wasn't found, but we knew deep down there wouldn't be much," she said.

"On day 251 the call we had been waiting for came. We were offered a heart for Joe. The call came early in the morning and time seemed to stand still before he was taken down to theatre."

After the operation, Joe's chest would not be closed for four days.

"Seeing his new heart - a normal size and thumping away in his chest - was incredible," said Rachel.

Their first night back at home was celebrated with Joe's favourite meal - pizza. Joe was first diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy when he was taken to hospital looking grey at just three weeks old.

An X-ray showed his heart was severely enlarged. He was later diagnosed with a genetic disorder - Barth syndrome, which leads to muscle weakness, short stature and feeding problems.

Joe's parents have both called for people to join the NHS organ donor register.

Rachel said: "We are eternally grateful to the donor family. We cannot imagine what they went through, their generosity of thought at such a horrendous time is completely selfless and amazing."

Good luck with your recovery Joe!

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