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Joe Skeratt has been kept alive for over 8 months by an artificial heart, which doctors say is a record in the UK.
Joe Skerratt, a three-year-old boy with a heart condition, was kept alive for over 8 months by an artificial heart, which doctors say is a record in the UK.
Skerratt, who is from Kent, was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart to stretch and makes it difficult for the organ to pump blood through the body, at just three weeks old when his parents took him to the hospital looking grey, BBC News reported. An X-ray showed his heart was severely enlarged. He was later diagnosed with Barth syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes muscle weakness, short stature and feeding problems.
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In December 2010, doctors found Joe's heart valves were leaking, and that his heart had swollen and was taking up too much space in his chest, according to BBC. A few days later, his heart stopped twice while he was in hospital, and he was transferred to the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, where his heart stopped for a third time, BBC reported.
Joe spent nine months in the hospital attached to a device called the "Berlin heart," a machine the size of a small freezer which temporarily supports the heart's functioning as children await a transplant, the Daily Mail reported. However, the wait for a donor organ for Joe became incredibly long.
"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," Rachel Skerratt, Joe's mother, told the Daily Mail. "On day 251 the call we had been waiting for came. We were offered a heart for Joe."
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Dr Alessandro Giardini, the consultant pediatric cardiologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said that there is a "chronic shortage" of donor organs for children in the United Kingdom, according to the Telegraph.
"We are really delighted to see Joe doing so well and thriving at home," Dr Giardini said. "He spent a long time with us in hospital. [...] Lots of children wait years for an organ to become available and can very sadly die while they are doing so."
Alice Hipkiss, a six-year-old girl from Oxfordshire, previously held the record for the longest time spent on a Berlin heart: she was hooked up to the machine for 228 days before her transplant in 2010, the Telegraph reported.
GOSH is the largest center for cardiothoracic transplantation in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe, according to the Telegraph.