Plucky teen raises £1,000 for hospital

PUBLISHED: 21:55 30 June 2005 | UPDATED: 05:57 02 March 2010

A TEENAGE heart transplant patient who suffered a relapse three weeks ago has helped raise £1,000 for the Suffolk hospital which diagnosed his problems.

A TEENAGE heart transplant patient who suffered a relapse three weeks ago has helped raise £1,000 for the Suffolk hospital which diagnosed his problems.

Gareth Barham, 15, was preparing for his modular GSCE exams when he had a rejection episode – where his body's defence system didn't recognise his new heart – and was forced to spend a week at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.

Following a treatment of intensive drugs and a biopsy, Gareth and his family set about organising an open garden event which raised £1,000 for West Suffolk Hospital's Rainbow Ward.

His father, Rev Peter Barham, said: "We were told that usually in the first year there is some form of rejection episode where the body has to get organised to fight any infection.

"He was actually feeling well and wasn't breathless, but they carried out some tests and took a slice of the new heart.

"A rejection episode is nowhere near as serious as it was ten years ago – they now have the drugs to cope with it. It was just a little blip which he had to get over."

The ordeal for Gareth, a pupil at County Upper School, and his parents – Peter, a canon pastor at St Edmundsbury Cathedral, and Julie - began last May when a virus attacked Gareth's heart muscle.

It had enlarged Gareth's heart so much that it was only pumping at 30 per cent its normal rate and his condition was causing damage to other organs

A suitable heart donor was eventually found in December – four months after Gareth first went on the transplant list.

The family, who have also raised money for Guy's and Great Ormond Street hospitals, held an open garden event for the hospital's Rainbow Ward.

Mr Barham said: "We wanted to thank the ward for their care of Gareth. They diagnosed what was wrong and got him transferred fast to the specialist unit at Guy's Hospital in London.

"While he was waiting for his transplant the hospital liaised closely with Great Ormond Street with regular weekly blood tests and checkups in Bury.

"They also ensured that we knew that if we had any concerns, or if Gareth seemed worse, that there would be care available closer to home than London. They have been absolutely brilliant and we just wanted to say thank you."

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