A 12-year-old French boy who was waiting for a heart transplant for more than a year, and whose plight inspired a popular song, has finally received his transplant.
Rémi, from Saint-Jean near Toulouse (Haute-Garonne), had been waiting for a donor heart at the Haut-Lévêque hospital in Bordeaux for 14 months.
Born with a congenital heart condition, Rémi had a series of heart attacks in February 2021, after which his only hope of survival was a heart transplant. Until now, he was connected to an artificial paediatric heart.
After his transplant, which went well, Rémi returned to Toulouse but will remain in the city’s Purpan hospital for continued monitoring and treatment for a while yet. He will now undergo therapy to help him walk again, and to become more independent.
David, Rémi’s father, told Le Parisien: “When the doctor informed us that a heart transplant was compatible and that Rémi was going to be operated on, his mother broke down in tears and I was speechless.”
He added: “We will always be worried about the slightest fever. Life won’t be the same as it was before, but it will still be life.”
His story had inspired a song written by medics, “Cœur Battant (Beating Heart)”, which was performed by a range of artists to raise awareness of the importance of organ donations for children.
The video on YouTube – which features Rémi’s doctors as well as footage of the teenager as a younger, active child and clips of his stay in hospital – has been seen tens of thousands of times.
The teenager’s parents want to continue talking about the importance of childhood organ donation. The subject is sensitive within the medical community, given that parents are called to make the decision at a time when they are dealing with the death of their child.
In 2020, there were 27 paediatric transplants in France. The average waiting time for a compatible donor heart for a child is six months.