Baby girl becomes first child in the UK to be fitted with a portable heart pump


Baby girl becomes first child in the UK to be fitted with a portable heart pump – and it means she can now go outdoors as she waits for a transplant

  • Grace Westwood is first child in UK to be fitted with portable ‘Berlin Heart’ pump
  • The 18-month-old has a heart muscle disease called dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Fitted with pump last month and can be taken for a walk outside in her pushchair
  • Became severely ill in March 2020 and was flown more than 200 miles in May
  • Travelled to Newcastle from her home in Birmingham for specialist treatment 

A girl aged just 18 months is the first child in the UK to be fitted with a portable ‘Berlin Heart’ pump as she waits for a transplant.

The life-saving machine means Grace Westwood, who has a heart muscle disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, can now be taken for a walk outside in her pushchair.

Before Grace was fitted with the pump last month, she was not able to spend much time away from her ward at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.

Grace Westwood, aged just 18 months, who has a heart muscle disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, is the first child in the UK to be fitted with a portable ‘Berlin Heart’ pump as she waits for a transplant (pictured: Grace with her mother Becci)

Grace Westwood, aged just 18 months, who has a heart muscle disease called dilated cardiomyopathy, is the first child in the UK to be fitted with a portable ‘Berlin Heart’ pump as she waits for a transplant (pictured: Grace with her mother Becci)

The previous machine was heavy and its batteries lasted only up to half an hour, but the new one has a battery life of up to eight hours.

Grace first became severely ill in March 2020, and was flown more than 200 miles from her home in Birmingham to Newcastle for specialist treatment in May that year.

Last month, she was fitted with the new pump.

Her father, Darren Westwood, said that it will make a huge difference to their lives. 

The life-saving machine means Grace can now be taken for a walk outside in her pushchair but before she was fitted with the pump last month, she was not able to spend much time away from her ward at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle

The life-saving machine means Grace can now be taken for a walk outside in her pushchair but before she was fitted with the pump last month, she was not able to spend much time away from her ward at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle

The previous machine was heavy and its batteries lasted only up to half an hour, but the new one has a battery life of up to eight hours. Her father, Darren Westwood, said that it will make a huge difference to their lives

The previous machine was heavy and its batteries lasted only up to half an hour, but the new one has a battery life of up to eight hours. Her father, Darren Westwood, said that it will make a huge difference to their lives

He said: ‘We can take her to the playroom and we don’t have to cut our time short. It’s the little things she’s missed out on – touching the grass, listening to the birds sing, seeing family properly instead of through a window, and that’s what we’re looking forward to – although we still have to be careful.’

Her mother, Becci Jones, said: ‘She’s leading as normal a life as she can and is amazing in herself. She loves everything and everyone and, while we’ve got to be careful with her, she’s trying to walk, she’s chatty and smiling all the time.’

The new, award-winning pump, the size of a small suitcase, was developed by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, along with German collaborators including the firm Berlin Heart.

Consultant Dr Emma Simpson, from the Freeman Hospital, said: ‘With the new device, we’ve got much better quality of life and autonomy.’

The new, award-winning pump, the size of a small suitcase, was developed by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, along with German collaborators including the firm Berlin Heart

The new, award-winning pump, the size of a small suitcase, was developed by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University, along with German collaborators including the firm Berlin Heart



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