Karl Hills was born in august 1982. When he was just eight hours old he was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London where we were told that he had a condition called tricuspid atresia which meant he had a missing valve, two holes and a blockage.
When Karl was 9 months old he had an operation called a shunt to aid his circulation to and through his heart.
When Karl reached 18 months old he had to undergo the same operation again because his health had deteriorated. This operation helped him through until he was three years old.
Then came the big shock because of his fall in health he had to undergo further open heart surgery at GOSH. The surgery was a success and this took him through his teenage years until he reached the age of nineteen.
At this time we started to notice a change in Karl. He started to slow down and was having rhythm problems with his heart like tacicardias.
Karl was transferred from GOSH to the heart hospital again in London. During this time he had numerous procedures to try to stop the tacicardia problem. Unfortunately this did not resolve the problem so he was then transferred, this time, to the University Hospital in Southampton. They tried to stop the tacicardias but again this did not work.
In 2007 the next step to try to fix the problem was to undergo his second open heart operation which again was not a success and the tacicardias became more frequent during the next 4 years. Karl became a regular visitor to the local hospital and made frequent visits to Southampton. During all this time, he still was having numerous tacicardias and was regularly having to be cardioverted which means shocking his heart back into normal rhythm.
Southampton consultants then gave us the devastating news that there was not much more they were able to do for Karl and advised us that his only chance left was transplantation. He was then transferred to the freeman hospital Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
This was a massive shock to us all because not only was this a one chance offer for him but he was now married with two young sons.
We went to Newcastle for the assessment in September of 2011 and were told that it would be a possibility for him to receive a transplant but because he was so ill, advised that he would stand a better chance if he went into hospital to await a heart.
Karl had to decide what to do and his decision was yes. He would go into hospital to wait for a heart. With all the organization during the next few weeks and the fact that Karl’s family were living far away, Karl was not having much contact with his wife and kids but if that wasn’t enough; the unthinkable happened. Karl suffered a massive stroke which disabled his right side and seriously affected his speech. We were all devastated.
The stroke meant that Karl had to be taken of the transplant list for at least three months before he could be reconsidered.
After the 3 months of hell he regained movement to his right side and some speech and was told that he would be back on the list so in January 2012 he was re-admitted to the Freeman Hospital to await a heart. At this time Karl was very very poorly and during the next few weeks of waiting became even more so. The hospital were saying that he needs a heart soon.
Then on the 10th of march his miracle happened and a donor was found for Karl. The next few hours were nail-biting to see if the heart would be a match for him, and yes the results came back that the heart was a perfect match. Karl underwent the transplant but the next few days would be critical to his survival. Everything went according to plan and he left hospital in May to come home to continue his recovery and to this date is doing remarkably well.
We never thought that we would see the day that Karl would be able to lead a normal life and enjoy his family so much. He still has some problem with his speech but he will overcome this in time.
As for the donor family which in their time of sadness were able to think of donating their loved ones organs to help others live we will be eternally grateful.
The Hills family.