Little Beatrix beats cardiac arrest and open heart surgery – now she desperately needs a transplant

A 16-month-old toddler is desperate for a transplant after battling cardiac arrest and open-heart surgery.

Terry Archbold and his wife Cheryl first thought their daughter Beatrix might have contracted covid-19 when she lost her appetite and became lethargic. The family, from Burnopfield, County Durham, had just returned from a trip to Disney World in Florida and Cheryl, 40, and her daughter Eliza, 11, had tested positive for the virus.

When a small rash appeared on the back of Beatrix’s neck in early May, she was rushed in an ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead for examination. A doctor detected a heart murmur and chest X-rays revealed that one side of his heart was enlarged and not working properly.

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Terry, 44, said: “We thought it was covid because the symptoms matched what we were feeling in Eliza and Cheryl. It was a huge shock, it was totally unexpected. It didn’t cross our minds. mind that it was a life threatening cardiac post.”



Terry holding his daughter Beatrix

The youngster was transferred to Freeman Hospital in Newcastle where she had a Hickman line inserted into her body so she could receive medication. Terry said an anesthetist told them she did very well with the procedure and they were asked to wait in another room while they finished.

He said: “No sooner had that door closed behind us than the alarms started ringing. I heard people running and alarms. Beatrix had a heart attack and they had to fight for her. bring her back in. Shortly after, the nurse came in and said ‘we’ve picked her up’.

“They did whatever it took to get her back, but they were of the opinion that she would have more cardiac arrests and if she did, she wouldn’t last the night.”

Terry and Cheryl, who lost their daughter Isabel as a stillborn in 2018, were told by doctors it was possible for Beatrix to undergo open-heart surgery. They said it would keep her heart functioning until she hopefully receives a heart transplant, which will save her life. The operation involved attaching his heart to four pipes, which are connected to a machine.



Beatrix's first hug with her mother Cheryl after the operation
Beatrix’s first hug with her mother Cheryl after the operation

Terry said: “It was either we lost her overnight or she was going to have the surgery and she had a shot at it. We gave our consent and signed the papers and they took her from the overnight to do this operation.

“Given her weakness, the fact that she had just had a cardiac arrest and the operation, I expected that this phone call would not be good news.

“I could never express in decent enough words, when I got that phone call, the joy at that moment. I could never describe that feeling knowing she was still there and fighting. still.

“Each of the pipes is about the thickness of an adult’s little finger. They came out of her and they were running to a machine at the end of a bed. Basically, that machine was running her heart and from From there, it’s been two weeks of gradual improvement day by day.”

Beatrix has since been using a Ventricular Cardiac Assist Device (VAD) from Berlin which gives her more movement. Doctors will need to keep her condition stable until a new heart is available. However, there is unfortunately no guarantee that she will receive one.

Terry said: “This machine gives her more mobility. She played on the floor and her little character started to come back. Now it’s just a matter of managing her during this time and keeping her stable until an organ becomes potentially available.”

Terry said Beatrix is ​​one of 20 children across the UK who are on the urgent list for a transplant. He said that when a heart becomes available, doctors have a maximum of four hours to get the organ to the patient.

He said: “It may never happen.

“What’s frustrating is that there are babies here and there are children older than Beatrix. Unless you’re put in that environment, people don’t know what’s going on. and how many children, not just here but in Great Ormond Street in London, are hoping for some sort of miracle.

“The difficulty with children is that you deal with the very sensitive subject of the loss of a child. You look at parents at the worst possible moment in their lives, when they have lost their child and everyone in their collapses.”

Cheryl remained at the hospital in High Heaton while Terry returns home and takes care of Eliza. Beatrix’s older sister also came to visit. Terry said: “It’s huge that Eliza was strong enough and brave enough to come into the service. Beatrix absolutely lights up for her.”

Terry and Cheryl have created a “Beatrix’s Heart Journey” social media page to keep family and friends up to date on what’s been going on over the past month. Over 1,800 people now follow Beatrix’s page.

Terry said: “The support we’ve received from family, friends and strangers has been absolutely mind-blowing. There are strangers reaching out to us – these are people who have gone down this path themselves in the past.

“The staff are absolutely breathtaking in the level of care they provide. It’s not just in the things they do and what they say, you can see in their eyes that they really care about these people. kids and what’s going on.”

To learn more about organ donation, click here.

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