'In pain but on course for a full recovery' - the Hartlepool teenager whose heart is no longer being crushed

A Hartlepool teenager can feel his heart “pulsing” after a successful £10,000 operation to stop his chest being crushed.

Saturday, 17th July 2021, 4:45 am

Joshua Readman, 17, had two hours of surgery to have a metal bar inserted into his chest which was caving inward.

His heart had only been operating at 45 per cent because of the pressure on it but within hours of the operation, he told his mum Natasha Johnston, 38, that he could already feel it ‘pulsing’.

It’s a slow process to recovery for Joshua, a Hartlepool College of Further Education student, who is likely to remain at the James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, until at least Sunday.

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Joshua Readman who is recuperating after life-changing surgery.

"He is still in a lot of pain and they have increased his pain medication,” said Natasha. But she added: “From the medical side, the operation has gone well. Joshua has had an X-ray of his chest and lungs and everything is okay."

Dozens of people backed a Go Fund Me appeal and others held events across Hartlepool to push the total beyond that all-important mark.

Joshua in hospital after his £10,000 operation.

The curved metal bar would remain in him for three to five years and would eventually be taken out.

When it is, Joshua’s chest will hopefully have properly formed and his heart can operate at between 90 and 95 per cent normal function.

Natasha added: “Joshua has managed to have a little walk with the physios and the nurses. Surgery went well and everything is going to plan.

"His heart is pulsing and that’s because it has the space now. We take it for granted that our heart beats properly but this is a weird sensation for him.”

Joshua recuperates in his hospital bed.

Although there are hopes that he can come home on Sunday, Natasha said: “We are taking each day as it comes.”

A message as part of the online Go Fund Me appeal for Joshua said: “This surgery was removed off the NHS funding list in February 2019 because they classed the procedure as cosmetic.”

But dozens of people made donations and others held fundraising events across town to help ensure the operation would happen.

Natasha previously told the Hartlepool Mail: “There are not enough words that I can say to thank these people. There is so much that people have done.

Joshua with his mum Natasha Johnston.

"The organising, the events, the time they have given and the fact that they have done all this in a pandemic when money is tight for many people. It is amazing.

"They have changed Joshua’s life. He didn’t have a life. He could not go out with friends or be a normal teenager. Joshua is over the moon that people have done this and he keeps saying ‘mum, there are too many people to thank and I can’t thank them enough’.

"Every single pound is helping to change his life.”

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A scan showing how Joshua's chest wall was pressing on his heart.
Joshua in hospital.
Joshua Readman pictured after his life-changing operation.