A Wave for Mummy
Wrote by Beth Neil 4th July 2007
Heart swap Zoe greets her family with a grin
THE impish smile and shy wave say it all – heart swap toddler Zoe Chambers is almost ready to leave intensive care.
Zoe, 18 months, was lifted from her bed yesterday and cradled in the arms of a nurse so she could wave to mum Julie less than a week after her 10-hour, life-saving operation.
Apparently oblivious to the tubes pumping vital medication into her tiny body, she also grinned and waved to brother Dylan, four, when she spotted him through the window of her glass cubicle.
Looking on, Julie – married to Rob, 34 – said: “She’s having a good day. Now I can’t wait to get her home.
“I’m really looking forward to being able just to clothe her in a lovely girlie dress without all the tubes getting in the way.”
Zoe, who developed cardiomyopathy, spent 100 days on a heart machine before an organ became available.
Now thanks to the expert care of staff at the Freeman Hospital, in Newcastle, not to mention her own fighting spirit, she is getting stronger hour by hour. There was further cheer yesterday when Julie, of Hull, welcomed record-breaking transplant girl Kaylee Davidson to Zoe’s medical unit.
Kaylee, now 20, was only five months old when she became Britain’s youngest heart swap patient in the Freeman Hospital.
Returning with mum Carol to the ward, she said she hoped to be an inspiration to the Chambers family.
Kaylee, from Houghton le Spring, Co Durham, said: “There is life after a transplant and Zoe can have that.
Heart transplant child Zoe Chambers has died
A two-year-old British girl has died a year after receiving a new heart.
By Lucy Cockcroft
Published: 8:38PM BST 14 Jul 2008
Zoe Chambers, aged 19 months, with mother Julie leaving The Freeman Hospital, Newcastle after her heart transplant operation last year
Zoe Chambers, who was born with narrow heart valves and suffered six cardiac arrests, underwent a 10-hour operation at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle last June.
Medical staff were so concerned for her health before the transplant that they issued an appeal, and she was placed at the top of the European waiting list, so if an organ became available it would immediately be flown to her doctors by private jet.
“I want to tell her to live life to the full. To take each day as it comes and not to get carried away.”
Sales adviser Kaylee is currently training for the World Transplant Games in Bangkok this summer.
She plans to compete in the 100m, 200m and 100m relays, plus badminton singles and doubles. She said: “I have a very active life. You have to take medication every day, but you get used to it. Zoe will too.”
Mum-of-three Carol, 39, said: “Seeing Zoe brought back so many memories. I know how Julie feels.
“It’s such a mixture of emotions. You’re over the moon that your child is getting better, devastated for the parents who have lost a child, but still enormously grateful for what they’ve done. It’s the ultimate gift.
“Having your child go through a transplant is a bit like being on a fairground ride that you can’t get off.
“Every now and again you get a massive dip. Then you have amazing highs when you least expect it.
“Twenty years on, the medicine and equipment have moved on. But the emotions are exactly the same.
“Zoe is a little diamond. Just enjoy every second and celebrate each milestone as something amazing.”
Last month Zoe’s parents, Rob and Julie Chambers, threw a party at their home city of Hull, East Yorkshire, to celebrate a full year of good health since she received her new heart.
She was also due to be the youngest competitor at the British Transplant Games in Sheffield in August.
Carol Olley, a paediatric representative with Transplant Sport UK, said: “We are greatly saddened at the loss of Zoe Chambers, one of our youngest members.
“Although transplantation saves many thousands of lives each year, sadly some recipients are not as lucky.
“Transplantation offers a renewed quality of life to people with life threatening conditions and for children, the chance to start living their life after illness.
“However, longevity can not be guaranteed.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chambers family at this sad time.”
After Zoe’s operation last year Mrs Chambers, 34, expressed her gratitude to the family of the donor who helped save her daughter.
She said: “It was very brave what they did for us and I hope they get some comfort from this.”
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, whose staff performed Zoe’s operation, tonight expressed sympathy for the Chambers.
A spokeswoman said: “The trust is very saddened by this news and our thoughts are with Zoe’s family at this time.”
‘I won’t let Zoe’s death be in vain’
Saturday, December 27, 2008, 07:00
A HULL mother who lost her two-year-old daughter after a heart transplant has vowed to help other people desperate for an organ donation.
Julie Chambers, of west Hull, said she wants to turn Zoe’s death “into something positive”, by campaigning for more people to sign the organ donor register.
The 34-year-old is to represent the NHS Blood and Transplant organisation, attending events in East Yorkshire and beyond to raise awareness of the issue.
The past two weeks have seen Zoe’s family get through Christmas and what would have been her third birthday without her.
Zoe died after falling ill at the family home on July 12 – just a year after receiving a heart transplant at the tender age of 18 months.
Julie told the Mail: “When something like this happens, you can react in two ways. You either wallow in grief and let the depression take over or you get off your backside and try and turn your loss into something positive.
“I have chosen the latter and I am determined Zoe’s story will be remembered for the positives – I am going to campaign for transplants in her name.”
In the coming year, Julie is attending a charity ball in Newcastle on February 14, to raise money for the children’s heart unit at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where Zoe had her transplant operation.
She will man a NHS Blood and Transplant stand at the event to raise awareness of organ donation and get more people to sign up to the register.
Julie said she hopes she will be able to do similar work in East Yorkshire in the future. She also hopes to visit businesses and provide information on how people can sign the donor register.
Julie has also taken the campaign online on the social networking website Facebook.
Zoe was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a swelling and enlargement of the heart, in 2006.
She subsequently suffered six heart attacks and survived for 100 days attached to a Berlin Heart – a £100,000 piece of equipment that kept her alive.
The need for a new heart became so desperate Zoe was fast-tracked to the top of the European transplant list.
A suitable heart became available and Zoe has a 10-hour operation on June 28 last year.
She had been recovering well, but fell ill and died in July.
Julie said: “I just hope Zoe’s story will make people stop and think about the happiness donating organs can bring.
“I will never look badly on the transplant. The heart gave Zoe a shot at life.
“It gave us a year with her and we will treasure that forever.”
Zoe’s mum campaigns for donors
Friday, April 17, 2009, 12:41
The memory of tragic heart transplant toddler Zoe Chambers is inspiring people to sign up to the organ donor register.
Zoe’s mother Julie Chambers, 35, of west Hull, is touring East Yorkshire to urge people to sign up to the register.
It comes just nine months after Zoe died – a year after she had a heart transplant in June 2007.
At the start of her campaign in Beverley, people of all ages have been signing up to the register.
Julie, who was collecting signatures in the town’s Tesco with her sister Jill Sharpe, said Zoe’s story had inspired people to sign up.
She said: “I have had a mum sign up her little girl, which is a very brave thing to do.
“I am very pleased with the way it’s going. People of all ages have come forward to register.”
Zoe Chambers is the face of The Organ Transplant and Julie Chambers does a lot of campaigning to get the public to sign up to the organ donation