KIERON Balfour is enjoying life as a teenager - after surgeons were flown more than 3,000 miles across the Atlantic so he could have pioneering heart surgery.

The 15-year-old was born with a rare defect called Ebstein's anomaly - a condition that causes one side of the heart to become dangerously enlarged due to a faulty valve.

His mother, Michelle, 38, refused to switch off his life support machine when he was a baby and was told so many times to prepare for the worst, that she had her son's funeral planned in her head.

But the family, from Blantyre, South Lanarkshire, were given fresh hope last year when a charity stepped in to bring top cardiac specialists from America to Scotland, so he could have the operation he needed to survive.

It was the first time the pioneering surgery, carried out at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill, Glasgow, had ever been done in Scotland.

The Scottish surgeon, Mark Danton, who carried out the valve reconstruction under the eye of Dr Pedro del Nido, chief of cardiac surgery at Boston Children's Hospital, warned Mrs Balfour that Kieron might not survive the 10-hour procedure.

But Kieron is now preparing to celebrate his 16th birthday next month.

"I knew I was in good hands when they said they were coming over, because not only did I have the best surgeon in Scotland; I had one of the best in America, too," he said.

"They had to prepare you for the worst but I was never really scared. I just wanted it done and out the way.

"Now I have much more energy. I've just sat my National 5 exams and I'm looking forward to the future."

The teenager is now organising a fundraising night in aid of Rebecca's Rainbow Heart Ebstein's Anomaly Trust, which spearheaded the campaign to make the surgery available in Scotland.

The charity was set up by the parents of Aberdeen youngster, Rebecca Gibson, who had to travel to America for the same operation four years ago.

Kieron said: "I just want to give something back so I can help other children with Ebstein's and raise awareness of the condition."

Ebstein's Anomaly affects just one in every 210,000 children.

Kieron spent five weeks in hospital as a baby and endured his first heart surgery when he was three years old, when surgeons closed a large hole between two chambers of his heart, in a bid to improve blood flow around the body.

But as this did not correct the faulty valve and his condition continued to deteriorate.

Kieron was also suffering from severe arrhythmias, causing the right side of his heart to "quiver and shake".

By the time he turned 14, he was so exhausted, he could barely manage a half day at school.

He eventually had the operation last April when Dr Pedro del Nido and his team from Boston agreed to fly over and Kieron became the first person to have the pioneering "cone" procedure in Scotland.

Surgeons repaired the malformed tricuspid valve, to improve blood flow through the heart, and relieve the build-up of pressure on the right side.

In a separate procedure, they also blocked the electrical currents to stop the arrhythmias from happening, by creating scar tissue on the heart to disrupt the path of abnormal electrical impulses.

Kieron was home and on the mend within 15 days. He may need a pacemaker in the future but right now he is off all medication.

He said: "Everyone was expecting the worst - and there was me home in 15 days."

Mark Danton, consultant paediatric and congenital cardiac surgeon, said: "Advances in surgical therapy are now allowing repair of the condition which we hope will provide good long-term quality of life.

"We are delighted the surgery went well and we will continue to the monitor the patient on a regular basis."

Kieron's fundraising night will be staged in the Greenfield Social Club, Hamilton, on August 28. There will be guest singers, plus face painting and a balloon artist for the children. All money raised will go to Rebecca's Rainbow Heart Ebstein's Anomaly Trust.

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