Transplant is the ‘only hope’

Joseph Barker, who is waiting for a heart transplant
Joseph Barker, who is waiting for a heart transplant
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The mum of a man whose ‘only hope’ is a heart transplant has spoken out about the importance of organ donation.

Joseph Barker was born with only half a heart, which is back to front, and had a cardiac arrest at just 18 months old.

Now aged 22, he has undergone open heart surgery twice, but needs a transplant to survive.

Mum Victoria said: “He’s been through lots of palliative surgery to keep him alive, and we’ve got him to the age of 22 but, if he’s to survive further and get a better quality of life, a transplant is his only hope.

“His condition came completely out of the blue.

“As a mother, it’s incredibly difficult to watch your child suffer with such a debilitating illness. I just want to take it away from him and make it all better, but obviously I can’t.”

Joseph has complex congenital heart disease and requires constant care.

Victoria, from Barnsley, spoke out as part of The Star’s Gift of Life campaign to recruit 12,000 extra organ donors from Sheffield before the Westfield Health British Transplant Games come to the city in August.

“It’s heartbreaking to see my son unable to do the normal things a person his age would do,” she said.

“He’s never been able to kick a football, go to a gig, or have a girlfriend, but if he gets a transplant his quality of life will be better than he’s ever known.”

Joseph is a member of the British Heart Foundation’s HeartTown group in Rotherham.

The foundation is supporting the games.

Lauren Mallinson, fundraising volunteer, said: “We have joined forces with the games’ organisers to help raise awareness of the need for more organ donors so people like Joseph can have hope for a better quality of life in the future.”

Call 0300 123 23 23 to become an organ donor.