Mum, 28, and gran, 51, get lifesaving heart transplants weeks after baby's birth

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Little Maggie Lawry spent her first birthday surrounded by wrapping paper and presents… but the best gift of all was the presence of her mum and grandma.

Mother and daughter Jane and Natalie Bailey had both suffered from failing hearts and each had received life-saving transplants within weeks of Maggie’s birth from strangers she will never meet.

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Their case is so remarkable that surgeons at the country’s largest transplant centre, in Birmingham, have never seen anything like it before.

Natalie, 28, says: “We are so lucky to have both been given a second chance. Life could have been so different for Maggie if it wasn’t for our donors.

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“And if it wasn’t for Maggie, I could have just dropped dead one day from heart failure.”

Mum, 28, and gran, 51, get lifesaving heart transplants weeks after baby's birth

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Natalie showing her scar after the transplant

Jane was given a new heart in October 2020 after 13 months on the transplant waiting list. But the relief was short-lived as a few weeks later, Natalie discovered her heart was failing too.

Worse still, Natalie was 33 weeks pregnant and the shock sent her into premature labour. She was rushed into surgery and Maggie was delivered by emergency Caesarean as doctors feared that neither would survive a natural birth.

Natalie then needed a mechanical pump to send blood circulating around her body until a new heart could be found, as her own could no longer keep her alive.

She was so ill she had a stroke and was put at the top of the “supra-urgent” list, so every donor heart was immediately checked to see if it was her match.

Jane, 51, says: “I was still in hospital recovering when I found out Natalie needed a transplant too and the nurses took me to intensive care to see her.

Mum, 28, and gran, 51, get lifesaving heart transplants weeks after baby's birth

They had their transplants in Birmingham ( Image: BPM MEDIA)

“It was the first time I’d seen her for weeks, because coronavirus meant she couldn’t visit me.

“It was scary seeing her on the heart pump, knowing that was the only thing keeping her alive. I blamed myself, because we had the same heart condition. It must be genetic.

“The only comfort was knowing I could answer any questions she had and support her, as I’d just been through the same thing. I knew the doctors were amazing and she was strong, so I clung to the hope she would recover and be the same person as before.”

Natalie and Jane both suffered from a rare condition, dilated cardiomyopathy, which makes the walls of the main heart chamber too thin to pump blood.

Jane developed breathing difficulties in mid-2019 and scans showed her heart failing. She was fitted with a pacemaker that September and a donor heart was found just over a year later. She spent her 50th birthday in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham after a transplant.

Mum, 28, and gran, 51, get lifesaving heart transplants weeks after baby's birth

Natalie with her family

When Natalie began suffering similar breathing difficulties, it was initially put down to low iron during her pregnancy. But when she was admitted to the same hospital with chest pains and her baby stopped moving, doctors found she too was suffering heart failure.

Mum-of-four Natalie, from Birmingham, says: “It was terrifying, all this came out of nowhere. They were giving me oxygen and I still couldn’t breathe.

“The doctor looked at me and said, ‘I think we need to get that baby out of you’. Then the contractions started and they took me straight to theatre because if I’d given birth naturally, neither of us would have made it.” Natalie didn’t even get to hold Maggie before the baby was whisked away to the neonatal unit, where she spent the next two weeks with her dad Carl camped beside her cot.

Natalie’s condition got worse and two days later she was fitted with a mechanical heart. She says: “I was so ill some days I’d wake up and forget I’d had a baby.”

Within a week a donor heart was found and Natalie had transplant surgery lasting more than 10 hours, but on the way back to the ward, she had a stroke.

Mum, 28, and gran, 51, get lifesaving heart transplants weeks after baby's birth

Natalie feeding little Maggie while in hospital

When she woke, she could not speak or use her left arm or leg. But two days later, Natalie was able to see Maggie and hold her for the first time.

She says: “Carl laid her in my lap and I was able to hold her bottle in my right hand to feed her. The emotion was overwhelming.

“The nurses said that they saw my recovery speed up after that, because I had a reason to get better.”

Natalie spent eight weeks in hospital before returning home on December 6.

Jane says: “When she came home, I hugged her and didn’t want to let go. It felt amazing. We’d both made it through something terrible, but we were home in time to spend Christmas together.”

Jane says: “I’m so grateful to my donor, their family, and to Natalie’s. My grandchildren got to keep their mum and their grandmother thanks to the courage and kindness of complete strangers.”

Natalie and Jane have been recovering well after their transplants at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and will be forever grateful to the transplant team.

Jorge Mascaro, director of heart and lung transplants, says: “There was a lot of emotional pressure for the team. They had never treated two members of the same family at the same time before.”

The hospital is trying to raise £2million to create a national centre of excellence and increase transplants by 25%.

As Natalie helped Maggie blow out the candles on her birthday cake, she made a special wish. She says: “I hope one day I can thank my donor’s family and that seeing what a happy, loving family we are gives them some comfort.”

See and support the fundraising for the new Birmingham Transplant Centre at

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