A HEART transplant survivor who was on the verge of death just three years ago has overcome the odds to get a string of GCSEs.
Kieran Baxter was born with a rare heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – which causes thickening of the lining of the heart and leaves blood and oxygen struggling to flow around the body.
The condition hit him hard when he turned 13 and he ended up in the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle with doctors telling his distraught parents that they should prepare themselves for the worst as he would not make it through the night.
But battling Kieran defied doctors and with the help of an operation to fit an artificial heart, he slowly and surely started to pull through, although his condition depended on an organ transplant.
Ten days later, a donor heart which had belonged to a 40-year-old woman became available and the schoolboy underwent lifesaving surgery to replace his old heart with the new one.
Kieran suffered a cardiac arrest soon after the transplant, which left him paralysed from the neck down leaving him needing months of intense physiotherapy at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle.
Since then Kieran, who uses a wheelchair but can now manage to stand and walk short distances, has never looked back.
And despite missing years of education at Wellfield Community School due to his health, he managed to bag himself an impressive set of GCSEs – two Bs, one C, and an E and an F.
His proud mum, Leanne Baxter, 34, is quick to point out that the E and F grades were for exams that he only sat part of, because he fell ill during them.
“He’s my little miracle, he really is,” she said. “We just can’t believe how well he’s done, we’re so proud of him. I never thought he’d get this far but he’d proved everybody wrong.
“He doesn’t like being praised or anything, but it’s just unbelievable to think we might have lost him three years ago, and now he’s passed his GCSEs.”
Full-time mum Leanne and her lorry driver husband Steven Baxter, 35, are no strangers to worry and heartache after losing Kieran’s younger eight-month-old sister Aleishia Baxter to the same condition about a decade ago.
They are also parents to Callum Baxter, 13, Laighla Baxter, nine, and Kaiden Baxter, six, who also suffers with the same illness as his big brother.
Leanne, of Woodland View, in Wingate, said: “A year ago the teachers thought he might struggle and might fail of his exams.
“But this year he’s shot away and he’s improved with everything. We are just over the moon with him.”