This was the start of the family’s ordeal. In May 2020, the parents had to call for emergency assistance after Jamie displayed symptoms consistent with the onset of a stroke. “As before with Kilian, Jamie was transported from Magdeburg to the Heart Center Leipzig, where they implanted a pacemaker with an integrated defibrillator,” said Roy. Shortly thereafter, doctors had to perform the same operation on Kilian.
The sense of security that followed proved to be short lived. The boys’ strength declined steadily to the point that they could rarely walk more than a few hundred meters without taking a break. Doctors at the Heart Center Leipzig placed both boys on the high-priority list for a donor heart.
On the afternoon of February 21, 2021, Mareen got a phone call. “The heart center told us there was an organ available for Kilian. I cannot describe what went through my head when I heard this,” she said. A short time later an ambulance stood at the door. As this was happening, Jamie was already at the heart center, where he had been undergoing extended treatment.
Preparations at the Fresenius Helios hospital began under an established routine. Kilian was prepared for the operation and received anesthesia around midnight. Prof. Dr. Diyar Saeed, Managing Senior Physician for Heart Transplants and Artificial Hearts, and Dr. Marcel Vollroth, Senior Physician for Pediatric Heart Surgery, performed the life-saving surgery. They were assisted by an experienced team of anesthesiologists and nurses. Of the 339 heart transplants performed in 2020 in Germany, 41 were done at the Heart Center Leipzig. “However,” said Dr. Vollroth, “all of them were performed on adults. The last time we transplanted a child’s heart here was in 2010.”