Cardiologist: 'Transplant girl was special'
Just two weeks ago, Zoe Chambers and her family were
celebrating the new life a heart transplant had given her.
Zoe Chambers, who has died more than a year after having a heart transplant, with her mother Julie
On June 28, the first anniversary of the life-saving
surgery, Zoe was partying with family and friends after taking
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her first steps, reducing her medication and planning an
appearance as the youngest entrant at the British Transplant
But on Saturday evening tragedy struck.
The Mail understands Zoe fell ill at the family home in St
Nicholas Avenue, west Hull.
She was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary's paediatric accident
and emergency department, where doctors battled to save her
But, despite their best efforts, Zoe passed away.
Today, as Zoe's parents, Julie and Rob, both 34, grieve with
Zoe's six-year-old brother Dylan at home, tributes have poured
in for the youngster who in the past year amazed doctors with
the speed of her recovery.
Dr Richard Kirk, the transplant cardiologist at Newcastle
Freeman Hospital, where Zoe spent many months before and after
surgery, said staff were in shock.
He said: “We accommodate half the transplant children in the
country and they don't come any more special than Zoe. Her
death is a terrible tragedy.
“All the staff at the hospital who helped Zoe when she was
here are devastated.
“Zoe spent a long time in our care, from first being
admitted through to the after-care she received, and we get
very close to the children, so it's utterly devastating when
Before getting her new heart, Zoe suffered six heart attacks
and survived for 100 days attached to a Berlin Heart – a
£100,000 piece of equipment that kept her alive.
The need for a new heart became so desperate Zoe was
fast-tracked to the top of the European transplant list and at
one point doctors gave her 24 hours to live.
After her transplant Zoe returned home and had been going
from strength to strength.
She began eating proper food, enabling her family to remove
a gastric nasal tube, and on Mother's Day this year she took
her first steps.
Dr Kirk told the Mail he had been treating Zoe for about 18
months and the circumstances surrounding her sudden death were
He said: “What happened to Zoe is so unfortunate and
“To die after a year following the huge steps forward she
had taken is unheard of in our experience.
“She was doing so well. We expected her to take much more
time to recover, but she didn't and that was testament to her
Zoe had become an icon for organ donation nationally.
A spokesman for UK Transplant said: “We are deeply saddened
to hear of Zoe's sudden death and our thoughts are with her
“Zoe and her parents have played a significant role in
encouraging more of us to join the NHS Organ Donor