Toddler fitted with UK’s first mobile 'Berlin heart' visits Santa for the first time

Left to right: Mum Becci, dad Darren, Grace, brother Josh and elves at Fenwick's Newcastle Credit: NHS The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals

Toddler Grace Westwood, who was fitted with the UK’s first mobile Berlin heart, visited Santa for the first time.

The two-year-old from Birmingham is currently on the urgent waiting list for a heart transplant after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in March 2020.

She was previously unable to leave her hospital ward often, as her Berlin heart pump was powered by a large heavy machine with a battery life of 20 to 30 minutes unplugged.

But in May she was fitted with a portable driving unit which operates the pump assisting blood flow to the heart and was the first child in the UK to receive it.

At the time, her family were just looking forward to being able to take Grace on a walk. But on Monday 20 December she was able to visit Santa for the first time.

The trip required meticulous planning in order to keep Grace safe, which included looking at the environment, power supply, infection control, and who she would come into contact with.

Credit: NHS

Staff at Fenwick were treated as NHS staff and required full Covid-19 immunisation and to carry out lateral flow tests before the visit.

In addition to these measures, transport for Grace had to be arranged so that if needed, she could receive urgent care, Dr Simpson said:

"NECTAR had got in touch with us to say that their off-duty staff had offered to help with the visit.

"The team decorated the ambulance with fairy lights pictures of Santa, and we all dressed in coordinated Christmas outfits – they really made the journey special.”

Credit: NHS

Grace’s older brother Josh, was also able to join for the visit to Santa, as part of an important milestone her.

Grace's trip to Fenwick's was supported by the Children's Heart Unit Fund and Newcastle Hospitals Charity.

Currently, home to Grace is ward 23 at the Freeman Hospital where she is on the urgent waiting list for a heart transplant while parents Darren and Becci have moved from Birmingham to Newcastle, to spend as much time as possible with her.