Thumbs up for a great 2015 for heart swap Joe

Home wish: Teenage heart transplant patient Joe Higgins is now standing unaided, having had to learn how to walk again, after his major surgery
Home wish: Teenage heart transplant patient Joe Higgins is now standing unaided, having had to learn how to walk again, after his major surgery

Today a teenage heart transplant patient finds out if his new year’s wish to finally go home from hospital can be fulfilled.

Doctors are set to meet to decide whether Joe Higgins is fit enough to continue his rehabilitation at home in Poulton, after months spent in Wythenshawe Hospital.

The 18-year-old spent the last five months of 2014 in hospital, waiting for and then recovering from the major surgery.

He received the best Christmas present he could hope for when he was able to move onto a general hospital ward.

Now Joe is working hard to rebuild his strength.

It is no mean feat though.

After weeks spent bed bound, four weeks of which he was in medically induced comas or battling two full organ failures, the teenager has had to learn how to walk again, gain weight and get used to life with a new, healthy heart.

Joe said: “It’ll be good to know today.

“I’m medically fit so the doctors have wanted to discharge me but I can’t do some things for myself so the physios want to be sure it’s right.

“It feels unreal. I never thought I’d get to where I am, it’s been so challenging.

“I lost so much weight and strength, I couldn’t even lift my head up.”

Since being in hospital Joe has lost close to five stone in weight as his muscles weakened without use. And his chest and neck now bear scars from the operation and being hooked up to support machinery. He added: “It’s all the best case scenario. I’m proud of my scars.

“I’m so grateful for the second chance I’ve been given but it’s very overwhelming.

“I think being discharged from hospital will make it all hit home.

“The care I’ve been given at Wythenshawe and all the support from family and friends has just been great, it’s got me through.”

Two organ failures, one transplant, no giving up

Joe Higgins was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in 2014 – a condition which sees the heart weaken as the muscle enlarges. In September was placed on the urgent donor list for a new heart. While waiting he underwent heart bypass surgery but suffered a massive organ failure during recovery. One week after this a heart was finally found and he went into surgery. In the hours following the transplant his organs shut down again and he was put on life support. Each time the determined teen has pulled through.