Emotional messages were sent to the heavens to thank an angel who donated their heart to save a baby boy – and to urge others to think about the life saving gift of organ donation.
Tiny Benjamin Rayner was given just a 30 per cent chance of survival when he was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and needed a transplant to survive. His heart stopped in his mother’s arms – but the brave tot carried on fighting.
But Benjamin, his mum Ashley, dad Davy and two sisters, who live in Orton Goldhay, had an agonising wait to see if he could be given the gift of life – and just as they had almost given up hope, a perfect match was found.
On Saturday, to celebrate a year since the donation and lifesaving operation, Benjamin, Ashley, Davy and other friends and family released messages tied to balloons telling the boy’s story.
Ashley said: “We want to celebrate Benjamin’s story, and the life of the baby who gave their heart for him.
“Wherever the balloons land, I open people will read the card, and it will open people’s eyes to organ donation. We want to help save lives.”
The Peterborough Telegraph has followed Benjamin’s journey from the desperate search for a donor to the magical news the operation had been a success. Last year, Benjamin won the Child of Courage prize at the PT’s Pride in Peterborough awards
Benjamin will celebrate his second birthday in August, and after spending his first year at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital he is just starting to learn to crawl.
Ashley said: “The time in Newcastle was the hardest ever.
“We spent 324 days in hospital with him, and I was by his bedside for most of that time.
“That Christmas we were told there was a slim chance we could find the right heart for Benjamin. But a few months later they found that perfect heart. It was like an angel sent it. Even now it feels unreal, like a dream.
“When we were told, my first thought was for that donor family. I just cried and cried.
“I look at Benjamin and think his story can help others, to show how important organ donation really is. Without that donation, he would not be here now.”
The family still have to travel the 200 miles to Newcastle on a regular basis for check-ups and other treatment, but the family are now getting used to life with Benjamin at home.
Ashley said: “Last Christmas was the best Christmas ever. He was spoilt rotten, but we loved the whole thing.
“His eyes lit up when he saw all the lights and the presents. It was amazing.”
The family are now planning other events in the city to urge more people to look into signing up to the organ donation register. For details visit www.organdonation.nhs.uk
More: Benjamin’s heart miracle