Heart transplant

Courageous Kayleigh amazes experts with progress after heart transplant

Kayleigh, now 14, hopes to take a parachute jump to raise money for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund.

This is her way of saying thank you for the gift of life she received in November 2019 during her heart transplant, after being diagnosed with

a heart disease called cardiomyopathy.

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Child of Courage award winner Kayleigh Llewellyn with her trophy in 2021.

Since then, she has continued to make remarkable progress and only recently returned to the hospital for doctors to check on her progress.

“She has had her two year exam and they are amazed at how Kayleigh is doing,” said her father Shaun Sidney. “She’s moving in leaps and bounds.”

Kayleigh, who won a Child of Courage trophy at the 2021 Best of Wearside Awards, is still working on her fitness as she wants to resume playing her favorite sport, soccer, as well as netball and hitting the gym.

“She will never be 100% and we know that,” Shaun said. “But Kayleigh pushes herself and she tries every day.”

Kayleigh with her beloved pet, a miniature dachshund called Oscar.

The Seaham High School student missed 13 months of school when she was ill, but she has caught up and is now doing remarkably well in her studies, her proud dad said.

And while she isn’t back to full health, she has already raised £ 4,500 on a fundraising walk in 2021 when her goal was £ 1,500.

“She broke it and next year she wants to do a parachute jump,” Shaun said.

Sadly, the pandemic temporarily ended one of Kayleigh’s dreams as she and her family hoped to spend Christmas in New York City.

Kayleigh and her brother Liam.

But there was a consolation. She now has a wonderful pet puppy called Oscar – a dachshund who is now part of the family.

“It’s something she always wanted,” Shaun said.

In the meantime, Kayleigh remains a “very savvy” teenager who takes great care to stay safe during Covid.

“When she goes to school, she always wears a mask and doesn’t take it off while she is at it. She’s very shrewd,” Shaun said.

Kayleigh pictured in 2020 with her parents Sonia Llewellyn and Shaun Sidney after returning home from her transplant.

Shaun reflected on Kayleigh’s stay in the hospital.

“We couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. She went from a healthy 12 year old girl to intensive care. Our whole world fell apart and two years later she is back. where she should have been apart from a bit of her physical form to get back.

Kayleigh and her family are eternally grateful to the donor. Shaun added, “We are in regular contact with the donor family and they are amazing.”

He added, “One of Kayleigh’s passions now is to promote and talk about organ donation.”

On the second anniversary of her transplant, she said on Instagram: “Two years with my heart and what an honor. I am not only incredibly grateful for my gift of life and the life I can live because of it, but I am so proud to have had the opportunity to carry on the legacy of my heart giver.

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Kayleigh Llewellyn pictured ahead of her charity walk from South Shields to Seaham in 2021.

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