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Real Life

EXCLUSIVE: My seven-year-old daughter had a heart transplant now she’s unstoppable!

‘Her heart was failing and she became weaker every day.’

By John Parrish
As her little girl Azri lay dying in hospital, Khylie Brown wrote a text no mother would ever want to write.
"I told my partner, Anna I was going to bring our daughter home to die," she says with tears in her eyes. "I'd lost all hope."
Just 14 months earlier, Azri Mortimer was a sporty seven-year-old with big dreams and an even bigger personality. Playing on the monkey bars in the park with her brother Zaran, nine, she fell and broke her elbow.
Khylie with Azri, her partner Anna and son Zaran at a Heartkids fundraiser.
After undergoing surgery to stabilise the bone, Khylie expected to take her little girl home to recover quickly.
Instead, she got the shock of her life when a doctor told her during surgery that a cardiac nurse discovered Azri's heart wasn't working properly.
More tests revealed she had restrictive cardiomyopathy – a rare condition that only three other children in Australia have.
"I've got a relative with a heart murmur so I thought it must have been the same sort of thing. But when I asked the doctor what tablets she needed she said, 'Tablets can't fix this – your daughter needs a heart transplant,'" says the 46-year-old mum. "I was devastated."
While a tearful Khylie tried to break the news to Azri, doctors delivered another devastating blow when they told her the chances of a child receiving a donor heart were rare.
While doctors hoped Azri could hold out until she was 16 for an adult heart, just six months later a biopsy revealed her heart was deteriorating faster than expected.
"The doctor said without a transplant she had 12 months to live," Khylie shudders. "And there was no guarantee she 'd get a heart. Not everyone does."
"Six months later a biopsy revealed her heart was deteriorating faster than expected."
The next few months were grim as Khylie, who works for Sydney Trains, and her partner Anna Mortimer, 54, had to watch their once lively little girl's health dwindle until she became wheelchair bound.
Finally, a ray of hope came for the family and their precious little girl when a heart became available in January this year. But as Azri was being prepared for surgery, they learned the heart wasn't a suitable match.
Throughout this process, Azri was fading fast and when her weight plummeted to just 21kg and she was struggling to breathe, she was admitted to hospital.
"Her heart was failing and she became weaker every day," Khylie says.
"She was dying before my eyes. On the fifth day
I prepared for her death. I knew it was hours away. I'd lost all hope and decided all I could do for her was to make sure she died at home, surrounded by family and friends."
Then, just as she had finished drafting the text to Anna by her dying daughter's bedside in February, Khylie says a guardian angel came to her – in the form of a heart transplant coordinator.
"She told me a heart had become available," she recalls.
"I couldn't believe it and I was overjoyed, but also sad for the family who had lost their child.
"She can already run 3km and it's a struggle to get her off her skateboard."
I woke Azri and told her she was getting a new heart and she gasped, 'Hurry up.'"
After spending the next six-and-a-half hours anxiously pacing the hospital corridors, Khylie and Anna got the news they had spent more than a year praying for – the surgery had been a success!
As soon as Khylie laid eyes on Azri, she had no doubt her precious daughter was going to live a long and healthy life.
"It was like looking at a different child," she says.
"Her eyes fluttered open and I saw life in them again."
Just eight days later, Azri astounded her family and doctors when she skipped out of hospital and into Ronald McDonald House.
The energetic little one has since been attending school and undergoing rehab in Melbourne, which she's expected to finish in June.
While Azri can't wait to get back to her family and friends in Sydney, Khylie says she can't keep her girl down.
"She can already run 3km and it's a struggle to get her off her skateboard," Khylie laughs. "No words can thank the donor family enough. They'd just lost their child. Mine had just hours to live. With their selfless decision, they gave her life."

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