Search

Meet the Clayhall woman who carries her heart in a backpack to keep her alive

PUBLISHED: 11:27 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:37 02 January 2018

Surgeon Diana Garcia Saez and Selwa Hussein, who effectively carries an artificial heart in her backpack (credit: Royal Brompton & Harefield Foundation Trust)

Surgeon Diana Garcia Saez and Selwa Hussein, who effectively carries an artificial heart in her backpack (credit: Royal Brompton & Harefield Foundation Trust)

Archant

A woman from Clayhall has become the second ever person in Britain to be given an artificial heart.

As a result of the life changing operation, Selwa Hussein, 39, now effectively carries her heart in a backpack.

The lifesaving kit contains batteries, an electric motor and a pump which pushes air through tubes to power plastic chambers in her chest which push blood around her body.

It weighs seven kilograms and has to be carried around with Selwa wherever she goes.

She is only the second person in the UK to be able to leave hospital with a total artificial heart.

The mum-of-two, from Clayhall was taken to Harefield Hospital,in June with severe heart failure.

Her heart function was deteriorating so rapidly that doctors were forced to put her on an ECMO machine, a life-saving device which delivers oxygen from outside the body and maintains circulation.

Until 2016, Selwa had been free of any symptoms but doctors believe her heart failure was triggered by a condition called familial dilated cardiomyopathy, a genetic disease.

After falling ill, doctors deemed her too unwell to recieve a heart transplant.

Instead, her heart was removed from her body and replaced with the artifical implant by surgeon Diana Garcia Saez on June 27.

She said: “Despite us increasing her medication, Selwa’s condition was getting worse very, very quickly.

“The only option to save her life was to implant a total artificial heart.”

Following the major operation, Selwa spent August learning how to walk, talk, eat and drink again on Harefield Hospital’s dedicated transplant ward, and building up muscle strength through physiotherapy.

She said: “All I remember from before the operation was crying to my sisters, and giving my final wishes to my family.

“I remember when I woke up, being told my heart had been taken out, and I was so disorientated I thought ‘what does this mean, have I died?’”

The operation was led by Mr Andre Simon, director of heart and lung transplantation and ventricular assist devices.

He said: “The operation went very well and Selwa’s recovery has been excellent.

“For us as a medical team, being able to use the total artificial heart gives us an option when all the others have been exhausted. “Without it, Selwa would not have survived.”

Selwa added: “I can’t thank the staff at Harefield enough: they have been absolutely amazing: everyone, the doctors and the nurses, but the physiotherapists are such experts, and the caterers, the cleaners, the healthcare assistants – they are all so positive for you, even when life felt very bleak.

“It is an incredible place.”

The mother-of-two needs someone who is trained on how the artificial heart works to be with her 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Her husband has been trained to use the device and Selwa hopes to be discharged home permanently once a full care package is in place.

She added: “Over Christmas I could go shopping, visit my family and I cooked for the first time in months.

“The device is an absolute Godsend. To spend time with my family, to have some – even a little – normality back, is wonderful.”

Harefield Hospital is the only centre in the UK that uses the device as a treatment for patients with heart failure

Selwa is on the heart transplant waiting list.

More than 6,000 people in the UK are currently waiting for a transplant and three people die waiting every day.

However only 32 per cent of the UK population are registered as organ donors and the organisation wants to raise awareness of donation.

To register as a donor or for more information please go to www.organdonation.nhs.uk, or contact the NHS Organ Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23.

Latest Ilford Stories

The former professional development phase lead coach moved to Barnet earlier this month

16:00

Essex club played against 10 men for almost an hour after Josh Staunton saw red for Shaymen

Dee Safer’s team have won six games in a row and a seventh consecutive triumph would send them first

Second-half goals from Snodgrass, Hernandez and Anderson give Hammers victory over Crystal Palace

The O’s lost for just the second time in this season’s National League on Saturday

17:18

Our reporter Liam Coleman met with the big man before a hectic few weeks.

Ilford’s Labour MPs have called for a second referendum to be held on Brexit after prime minister Theresa May called off a Parliamentary vote on her deal.

10:00

Football manager beat actor Emily Atack to win this year’s series

PROMOTED CONTENT

The Exchange in Ilford has added a state-of-the-art, Savannah-themed play area, with hand painted animal sculptures, to its brand new family zone, designed by American creative agency Playtime

Are you an unpaid carer aged 25 or over? Are you interested in working towards getting into or back into work? Do you need practical help and support to get ready for this big step? If your answer is yes to at least two of these questions read on.

Struggling to find a buyer for your home in a slower market? We speak to Ilford property expert Nina Kaura from Portico about the Crossrail effect and why getting things right first time will get you the best price for your property.

Newsletter Sign Up

Ilford Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Ilford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now