Scarlett is a healthy girl. She attends kindergarten twice a week, she goes to pre-school gymnastics classes and she spends hours playing with her siblings. Scarlett is full of energy and joy of life.
Suddenly Scarlett got sick and I thought of a viral infection, maybe a normal cold. However, as the day went on, it turned out that it must be something more than just a small influenza virus. But I couldn't imagine what was yet to come.
Scarlett was taken to our local hospital in Hull. The doctors examined Scarlett's heart, which was beating in her chest at over 180 beats per minute. Scarlett was monitored all night and then had to be transferred to the nearest hospital with a pediatric cardiac unit for further examination the next day.
On arrival at the children's ward, Scarlett suffered a cardiac arrest. Emergency open heart surgery was performed and Scarlett was connected to the heart-lung machine (ECMO). During this time we learned that Scarlett's heart was greatly enlarged and that there were two possible causes: dilated cardiomyopathy or myocarditis.
After a few days, the doctors concluded that Scarlett needed longer-term care, so she was transferred to the Newcastle Freeman Hospital. Scarlett spent almost two weeks on ECMO before the doctors decided to give her own heart a chance.
Unfortunately Scarlett's condition worsened and her heart failed again. The doctors in Newcastle told me that Scarlett's only chance was to get a Berlin Heart implant. The Berlin Heart was intended to help Scarlett bridge the waiting time for a donor heart. I was absolutely devastated. I had only heard about Berlin Heart a few days earlier and all I could think about were the risks and the reduced quality of life with a ventricular assist device.
Scarlett received the Berlin Heart and the doctors performed a biopsy. This confirmed that Scarlett has myocarditis.
A week after the Berlin Heart implantation, Scarlett sat in bed talking, playing with her toys and even drawing a picture. At this moment I realized how much the Berlin Heart had helped us. I had my daughter back after weeks of suffering!
Scarlett's state of health stabilized with the Berlin Heart and she was finally allowed to leave the children's intensive care unit. The new ward offered much better opportunities for children and Scarlett was able to do so many things that children of her age should be able to do.
I thought Scarlett was tied to a bed until she got a new heart, but that wasn't the case at all. She could visit the playroom, sit at a table, do puzzles and play.
After a few weeks with the Berlin Heart, we received a message that we hadn't even dreamed of: Scarlett's heart had recovered thanks to the support of the Berlin Heart! It had healed itself and was able to take over its function on its own again! Scarlett was allowed to come back home to us with her own heart!