A BABY’S first steps should be one of the most exciting milestones in life.
But for little Niamh Walker, her new-found walking skills have put her back in hospital as her damaged heart struggles to take the extra strain.
The 18-month-old is the youngest girl in the country to be on the heart transplant register after being diagnosed with a heart condition, cardiomyopathy, when she was just 10 weeks old.
Now her parents, Simon Walker and Sam Lee, of Fenay Bridge, are hoping news of a donor will arrive soon as their daughter’s condition gradually worsens after more than a year on the waiting list.
Mum Sam, 25, said: “She was doing brilliantly, but they think all the running about she’s been doing has set her back and put an extra strain on her heart which it just cannot cope with.
“She was struggling with her breathing so she had to go back into hospital, where they are trying some new drugs on her. We hope she’ll be able to come home soon.
“This is the last thing they can try on her; anything else she will have to stay in hospital for.
“She is getting worse. We just hope a donor is going to come soon.”
Niamh has been in Leeds General Infirmary since last Wednesday and will have to return there for tests after she is allowed to go home.
She will eventually have the major transplant operation at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, one of only two hospitals in the country to carry out heart transplants on children.
The family are due to hear from medics there next week after two false alarms in the last year when they thought heart donors had been found, only to discover the hearts were in too poor a condition to use.