Heart swap teen opens his eyes for first time

Brave teen: Joe Higgins is said to be making 'small and slow' progress after undergoing a heart transplant
Brave teen: Joe Higgins is said to be making 'small and slow' progress after undergoing a heart transplant

A critically ill teenager is making progress after undergoing a heart transplant, his family today said.

Joe Higgins, 18, is recovering from the life-saving surgery after he was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy just weeks ago.

The condition meant Joe’s heart weakened as muscle grew larger, meaning a transplant was his only hope of survival.

The teenager, from Linderbreck Lane, Poulton, was put on the emergency transplant list and later fitted with a mechanical heart until a suitable match was found.

His family has again thanked well-wishers for their support and updated people on the teenager’s remarkable progress since diagnosis.

Chessie, his 23-year-old sister, said: “Joe is still in a critical state but he’s making small and slow progress.

“He’ll slowly start to wake up in the next week or so.

“[On Sunday] I told him he’d survived and got his new heart and his eyes opened for a second.

“Apparently he can hear us, so I mentioned the great support he has behind him.

“Surgeons say we need that element of luck still and prayers, so please keep them coming.”

Joe, prior to his operation on October 24, bravely shared his experience with others via social networking sites, urging people to consider joining the organ donor register and inspiring thousands of well-wishers with upbeat and frank reports from his hospital bed.

Friends of the former Baines High School student are continuing to donate money in his honour to the cardiac unit at Wythenshawe Hospital where he is being treated, through a charity webpage set up by the Poulton school.

The total raised now stands at more than £1,000, after the school held a special ‘Joe’s Day’ for him, by chance on the same day a match was found and he underwent the more than four-hour surgery.

To donate, visit: www.justgiving.com/joesday