Red Arrows fly for Eastbourne heart transplant bravery

Ruby Wright with airbourne teddy SUS-150819-124429001
Ruby Wright with airbourne teddy SUS-150819-124429001

A young girl’s incredible bravery has won recognition from Red Arrows pilots flying on the final day of Airbourne.

Ruby Wright, aged 11, who survived a high-risk heart transplant, was honoured with a special heart formation flight on Sunday August 16.

Airbourne 2015. Red Arrows 14/8/15. SUS-150815-131848001

Airbourne 2015. Red Arrows 14/8/15. SUS-150815-131848001

Ruby’s Mother Lisa Wright was delighted with the display, she said, “The Arrows flew over with the heart and we all cheered as a family and then the applause sort of rippled through the crowd. At that moment everyone in Eastbourne was cheering for Ruby’s bravery.

The Red Arrows display was a suprise organised by Ruby’s grandmother, Sue Green, and comes after a period of uncertainty in Ruby’s health.

Lisa said, “Where to begin with Ruby, She’s been ill all her life. She had Leukaemia, blood cancer, she was born with that.

“She was treated at Great Ormond Street hospital, she has always been treated at Great Ormond Street, they saved her so many times.”

The leukaemia went into remission but when she was two-years-old she had to have a full bone marrow transplant with donor stem cells.

In 2008 when Ruby was four-years-old, Lisa took her back to Great Ormond Street for a routine check-up. The Cardiology test revealed Ruby’s heart was failing and needed to begin immediate treatment to slow the damage.

Lisa said, “She was given lots of drugs to keep the heart stable and it wasn’t until January 2014 when Ruby started going downhill.”

Doctors at Great Ormond Street told Lisa, her now nine-year-old daughter would have to have a heart transplant as soon as possible and would need to be told about what she was going to face.

To break the news Lisa took Ruby away to Hope Beach in the Isle of Wight.

She said, “Just the name of the beach was going through my mind. I was there with Ruby and her brother Andrew. He’s 16 but he’s been like a dad to Ruby. Without Andrew I’m not sure I could have coped with everything by myself.

“I told Ruby and because she is very braveshe just said ‘I’m getting a heart transplant and lets go for it’.”

With her name on the list Ruby and her family had to wait for more than a year and a half for a donor heart to become available.

“In the end we thought it wasn’t going to happen. But on May 30, at one minute past midnight we got the call.”

A heart had become available but with only a short window to make the transplant the family had to move quickly.

An ambulance was sent immediately to take Ruby to Great Ormond Street to begin the operation.

“She went down to the operation at 8am and was in until 5pm. I was worried but I’m used to long frightening waits.”

While the operation was a success the transplanted heart did not take immediately and Ruby needed round-the-clock care for weeks.

After seven weeks of intensive care and recovery Ruby was finally released on July 16, Ruby’s eleventh birthday.

Lisa said, “It was coming up for a while and we kept asking if we could be out by her birthday. It was really nice the nurses bought her some chocolate cake in the morning and we were back home by the evening.

“She is still weak now but is having physio and regular check-ups but is back home now.”

Lisa continued, “I’m so proud of both my kids and how they’ve stuck together . There’s five-years difference between them but they are so close. I just think the world of them.”

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