Grace’s family praises life-changing technology while she awaits a heart transplant.


Grace’s family praises life-changing technology while she awaits a heart transplant.

While awaiting a transplant, an 18-month-old girl has become the first child in the UK to be fitted with a mobile Berlin Heart drive unit.

Grace Westwood is being treated at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, which is more than 200 miles away from her Birmingham home.

She received the completely portable driving device last month, allowing her to spend time away from the ward and enabling her parents, Becci and Darren, to take her for a stroll in her pushchair.

The device resembles a compact suitcase and has an eight-hour battery life.

Grace couldn’t be transported far from the ward because the prior unit was hefty and the batteries only lasted half an hour.

The innovative technology was created as part of an international effort and has received recognition.

“Our goal was to decrease the stress and effects of a long-term hospitalization on the children and their families by allowing them mobility and autonomy in their everyday life in the hospital environment,” said paediatric consultant Dr Emma Simpson of the Freeman Hospital.

Grace was born in November of this year, and the epidemic has made her fight for survival much more difficult.

“It came out that Grace was born with a left ventricle impairment, but it was a mystery what was wrong with her for a week,” Mr Greenwood added.

“She was in such bad shape, and we didn’t find out she had a cardiac issue until we went to Birmingham Children’s Hospital.”

Grace was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy in March 2020, and as her condition worsened, she was transported to Newcastle for specialised treatment in May of last year, while her parents drove up separately.

She was given a Berlin Heart to keep her alive until a suitable organ could be found.

“She’s leading as regular a life as she can and is amazing in herself,” her mother, Becci Jones, said.

“She adores everything and everyone, and while we must exercise caution with her, she is attempting to walk. (This is a brief piece.)


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