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Medics write song for French boy, 11, waiting for heart transplant

Healthcare workers at the Bordeaux hospital aim to raise awareness of the need for child organ donors 

Staff in a Bordeaux hospital have written and recorded a song for an 11-year-old boy who has been waiting for a heart transplant for the past 10 months Pic: Spotmatik Ltd / Shutterstock

Staff at a Bordeaux hospital have written and recorded a song and music video to help an 11-year-old patient who has been waiting 10 months for a heart transplant. 

The song, which is called ‘Cœur battant’ (Beating Heart), centres around Rémi, a boy from Toulouse who has a congenital heart condition and has already suffered two heart attacks. 

He has been in hospital for the whole 10 months that he has been needing a transplant, but the wait for child organs is even longer than that for adult organs.

In an attempt to make the uncertainty easier, Rémi’s care team wrote a song including the line ‘Le don d’organes, c’est aussi pour les p’tits’ (Organ donation is also for little ones).

The song’s music video shows clips of Rémi in the hospital singing along to the music and surrounded by the paediatric team and his family.

‘The wait is really very long for him - he’s linked up to a machine and so cannot go out’

All proceeds from the single will be donated to Les Liens du Cœur, an organisation which supports children born with heart conditions.

“It all started when Rémi was singing ‘Ramenez la Coupe à la maison’ at the top of his lungs,” paediatric nurse Emilie Fraisse told BFMTV

“He was changing the words and saying Ramenez Rémi à la maison’ (Bring Rémi Home). It was that which made us want to record a song with him and his family.

“The wait is really very long for him - he’s linked up to a machine and so cannot go out as this would require significant human and material resources. 

“The idea of the project was to change his mentality, to motivate him and to help him pass the time,” Ms Fraisse continued. 

Rémi’s care team posted on social media to appeal for technical help, two directors offered their support and from there “everything developed very quickly,” Rémi’s parents David and Laëtitia Hemmery said. 

Over the next month and a half, the team wrote their lyrics, recorded their voices and filmed the music video in the hospital. 

“We knew that we had to move quickly as Rémi is in a life-threatening situation, so we really went from A to Z in a few weeks,” said one of the directors, Johanna Turpeau. 

“Everyone wrote their own couplet: the singers first, then the parents, then the staff caring for him. This is really a collective project,” she added, thanking all the contributors, including singers Guillaume Aldebert, Laurent Kebous and also Fredo from the Les Ogres de Barback group. 

‘Our aim is to get people to talk about this subject.. it’s a difficult topic’

“Rémi’s story really moved me because he is a little boy who was doing really well, who was doing sport etcetera, and who from one day to the next had a heart attack in the street.

“We are talking about a subject which is taboo, brutal, difficult…but the aim was to talk about it with emotion in order to encourage people to talk about it properly and to know what to do if needs be.

“Waiting times for this type of transplant are often long but 10 months is particularly long and rare,” said Ms Fraisse.

Recently, there have been fewer transplants carried out because of Covid, which has led to a drop in the number of accidents and therefore of donations, according to the hospital staff. 

“In general, there aren’t enough [organs] because it is a sensitive subject,” Ms Turpeau added. We all understand that it is difficult to donate the organs of a child that has just been lost and that people don’t think about it in advance. 

“When you lose a child, you must make difficult decisions very quickly and you don’t take the time to ask yourself this sort of question if you have not thought about it beforehand.”

How does organ donation work in France? 

Every adult is automatically assumed to have given their consent to be an organ donor in France without the need for a confirmatory document or card under a 1976 law. 

However, anyone can object to the donation of their organs or tissues. 

After a person’s death, the medical team must contact the family to check whether or not the person was happy to have their organs donated, unless they had signed the registre national de refus refusal register. 

It is therefore useful for people to share any objections with their family in writing – or at least orally – so that their wishes can be observed.

When a child dies, it is up to their parents to decide whether their organs can be donated. If the child has expressed a preference either way, that will also be taken into account.

Children can access the registre national de refus from the age of 13. 

You can find out more about organ donation in France on the government website. 

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MPs back automatic organ donations

France plans new laws for people who donate their body to science

Blood donations triple after terror attacks but Britons are still banned

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