Rachael home for Christmas after second heart transplant

Rachael Moffat is delighted to be home for Christmas.
Rachael Moffat is delighted to be home for Christmas.

A 15-year old girl who went through a second heart transplant last December is getting home to her family just in time for Christmas.

Rachael Moffat, from Cleland, was diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy aged five. She has spent more than a year in hospital recovering from complications following her surgery.

Mum Mary spoke of her joy at Rachael’s return home as she highlighted what organ donation has meant to them as a family.

Rachael is hoping to compete in the 2017 Westfield Health British Transplant Games when they come to North Lanarkshire next July.

Rachael’s first heart transplant went ahead in 2008 at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle when she was aged seven, and initially things went well, giving her more energy and the freedom to do things most children take for granted, like riding a bike.

However in November 2015, Rachael’s health went into decline and her heart stopped working effectively. She was taken back to the Freeman, where a ventricular assist device was used to keep her alive as she waited for the transplant she desperately needed.

Rachael’s wait was short, with a suitable donor heart becoming available, and the transplant went ahead just over two weeks after she was admitted.

Post-transplant, Rachael was diagnosed with critical illness neuropathy, meaning she couldn’t move anything other than her right hand.

Her heart issues have also damaged her kidneys and Rachael is now dialysis-dependent four days a week and will require a kidney transplant in future.

With around 530 people in Scotland still waiting on a transplant, the family has shared her story in a bid to encourage Scots to give the ultimate gift this Christmas – by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register.

Mary said: “Rachael is doing really well. She’s had to jump so many hurdles in life and she has never once given up. Her determination has played a big part in her recovery and her being home is the best Christmas present we could ever wish for.

“After Rachael’s first transplant, we didn’t think we would be so fortunate again. She’s had a long battle, but we would have lost her last year if it wasn’t for her donor. We are indebted to the care she has had at the Freeman Hospital and the Sick Kids in Glasgow which has made her return home for Christmas possible.”

Rachael’s brother Stephen was also diagnosed with restrictive cardiomyopathy and underwent his transplant in 2007 aged 11. Stephen was also discharged in time for Christmas that year, and recently celebrated his nine-year transplant anniversary.

Their dad Andy also had the condition, but died during his transplant surgery in 2010.

Mary said: “I know how lucky we are. Both my children have been given a second chance at life, and without their donors they wouldn’t be here now.

“I’d encourage anyone to consider joining the NHS Organ Donor Register. Organ donation truly is the greatest gift, and we’ll never stop being grateful to the donors and their families who made Rachael and Stephen’s transplants possible.”

To join the NHS Organ Donor Register, visit weneedeverybody.org