A brave teenager saved by a heart transplant is back at school and loving life again.
“Fit and active” footballer Kayleigh Llewellyn, 13, fell seriously ill with cardiomyopathy – a disease of the heart muscle – last October.
She was taken to the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, and received a new heart 12 months ago today before featuring on the Daily Mirror’s last front page of 2019.
Kayleigh, of Seaham, Co Durham, now has three lessons a day, three days a week at Seaham High School.
She said: “I am really enjoying being out of the house. I’m gradually getting my fitness back and waiting to play football again.”
Outside school Kayleigh is busy making jewellery to raise money for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund at the Freeman while helping parents Sonia, 42, and Shaun, 51, prepare gifts for children on her old ward.
Kayleigh has also made her donor family an infinity necklace.
In a moving letter, she told them: “You saved my life.”
Her family all support Max and Keira’s Law, backed by The Mirror, which makes everyone in England a donor unless they opt out.
“We don’t take anything for granted now,” said Sonia, who gave up work to care for her daughter.
“We got two lovely letters from Kayleigh’s donor family, one to her, the other to me and Shaun. We hope to meet them one day.
“We cannot put into words how we feel. That’s why we are raising money for the hospital and CHUF, to give something back.”
Shaun, a timber yard worker, added: “We would urge everyone to think about what they want to do with their organs when they die.”
Max and Keira’s law was named in honour of Max 12, of Winsford,
Cheshire, and his heart donor Keira Ball, nine, who died in a car accident near her home in Barnstaple, Devon in 2017.
It is predicted to save hundreds of lives each year.