'My whole family share in our love for my baby's heart donor, who we will never know'

Jessica with mum Elaine, dad Stephen and big brother Daniel.

A mother has spoken of her deep gratitude to the donor who made possible a life-saving heart transplant for her baby daughter.

Elaine McMahon (25) and her partner Stephen Hall (26) already had a four year old son, Daniel, when Elaine gave borth to baby Jessica.

Jessica was born with a suspected heart murmur which led to a diagnosis of two potentially fatal heart conditions.

Elaine and Stephen were told her only chance of survival was a heart transplant.

Jessica was put on life support at Crumlin Children’s Hospital to await a donor, after a catalogue of serious health battles including cardiac arrest.

Elaine said: "Unfortunately Jessica's time in Intensive Care at Crumlin in 2015 was very challenging for her and her excellent medical team. For myself and my family it was heart-breaking.

"Jessica survived eight of these months on a life support machine waiting every second of every day for a donor heart organ."

She suffered multiple infections and in July 2015 after multi organ failure her chances of survival looked bleak.

Elaine stayed by her side throughout only leaving late at night to stay nearby in the Ronald McDonald House in Crumlin.

Jessica was eight months on life support, when in early Autumn 2015 they received an early morning call that a donor heart had become available.

Jessica, just nine months old, was immediately flown by Air Corps to Great Ormond Street for her life-saving heart transplant.

Elaine takes up her story, saying: "Jessica has never looked back since that day. Since November she has been back home with us (in Clontibret, Co Monaghan).

"When she came home she was so small and fragile like a newborn but quickly started to catch up on all the development stages other babies of her age would have gone through.

"She has had to learn to suck a bottle a bottle again as she was previously fed from a tube. Her progress has been amazing since she came home.

"Her personality is now beginning to shine through and she is a really good baby.

"My whole family share in our love for her heart donor who we will never know. If the call hadn’t come through for a donor heart she would not be with us here today. Jessica is a miracle.

"To live through everything she has been through is proof that she fought to survive. The difficult decision for her donor’s family has not only saved Jessica but it has also transformed all our lives and brought us so much happiness and we can now carry on as a normal family.

"As a young busy mother I had never thought about organ donation before Jessica came along. I am now passionate about wanting to promote awareness around Organ Donation and I hope that by sharing my story during Organ Donor Awareness Week that the lives of more children and adults can be saved."

Jessica is now 16 months old and yesterday to mark the beginning of Organ Donor Awareness Week Elaine put a video of her baby' on Facebook page "Have A Heart For Jessica" which has already received huge response.

There are approximately 550 people in Ireland awaiting lifesaving heart, lung, liver, kidney and pancreas transplants. Thanks to the gift of organ donation well over 3000 people in Ireland are enjoying extended life.

If you can’t see this FB video, click here.

Organ Donor Awareness Week 2016 (2-9 April) is organised by the Irish Kidney Association. You can text “kidney” to 50300 and €2 will be donated from your mobile phone account to the IKA. Organ Donor Cards can also be obtained by phoning the Irish Kidney Association LoCall 1890 543639 or Freetext the word DONOR to 50050.

Two sides of organ donation: Meet Ben and Sarah

Most Read in Ireland