FUNDRAISER FETE: Kristie Jensen and Jeffrey Jensen-Paag look forward to the fete being held to raise money for HeartKids.
FUNDRAISER FETE: Kristie Jensen and Jeffrey Jensen-Paag look forward to the fete being held to raise money for HeartKids. Inga Williams

No tripe! Cow's stomach is Jeffrey's saviour

WHEN a human donor couldn't be found in time, surgeons turned to an unusual source in order to save a young boy's life.

Jeffrey Jensen-Paag is now an adventurous, energetic 15-month-old thanks to the stomach lining of a cow.

Although the heart valve that doctors fashioned from a beast won't last forever, it has allowed this little bundle of joy to be a normal kid, and taken a huge load off his mum's shoulders in the process.

Jeffrey was born with a condition known as aortic stenosis, which basically means that a valve in his heart was not working properly.

Mum Kristie knew there was something wrong as soon as she took her newborn home from hospital.

"He was sleeping non-stop," Ms Jensen said.

"It got to the point where I tried to wake him up for a feed and he wouldn't wake up."

Tests eventually showed low oxygen levels in Jeffrey's blood - pointing to a faulty heart valve.

When an initial procedure to try to blow the valve open failed, a call was sent out for a human donor - but none could be found.

"They ended up using a piece from a cow's stomach lining," Ms Jensen said.

"It was an amazing transformation. Within 16 days he was like a normal boy again."

Apart from the fact that Jeffrey has joined the "zipper club" - with a large scar down the middle of his chest - he will not suffer any permanent affects, apart from the fact that he will eventually outgrow his makeshift heart valve.

Doctors will monitor the brave young boy in order to work out when they will have to replace it.

Meanwhile, his appreciative grandma, Bernie Jensen, is doing her bit to raise money for HeartKids, a charity which supports kids like Jeffrey and their families during treatment.

The Jensens are organising a fete at Raceview State School on September 26 to raise money for the charity.

It will feature kids' rides and entertainment, live performances and displays, running 6-9pm.

For more information visit berniejensen.wix.com/heartkids.

Fast facts

  • Six Australian babies are born with a heart defect every day
  • It's estimated that 32,000 Australian children are living with CHD
  • About half of those diagnosed with heart disease require surgery

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