A Ripley boy will celebrate this Christmas at home with his family after a second life-saving heart transplant.
Nine-year-old Kori Parkin-Stovell spent last Christmas in hospital, too weak to eat, drink or open his presents.
Born with a rare heart condition, Kori had endured countless operations to keep him alive and was eventually listed on the urgent heart transplant list in 2018.
Despite receiving an initial transplant, Kori went into heart failure in November 2019 and was taken to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, miles away from home.
The only way to keep Kori alive was through a second heart transplant, which left him in hospital for six months – and Kori’s mum, Kerrylee Stovell, was told he might not survive.
Ms Stovell said: “Kori became very sick suddenly and was rushed to hospital where he literally fought for his life for a month.
“On Christmas day, Kori was in intensive care and he was very, very poorly. We were told he would die, but he defied all the odds.”
After spending months in a hospital bed, Kori started to recover from the transplant and was allowed to return to Ripley, where he will now get to spend Christmas with his family.
Ms Stovell admitted she was relieved to have her son back home and was proud of him for remaining positive during an incredibly-difficult time.
She said: “He is still recovering, but he is alive, cheeky and a pure joy.
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“We’re looking forward to Christmas – Kori wants to be a chef so he’s asked for a chef’s hat so he can help with Christmas dinner this year.
“He will also have his own tree, in his own bedroom, which he is very excited about. Whatever we do, as long as we are all together that’s all that matters.”
Ms Stovell added that the past few years would have been even more difficult without the support of The Sick Children’s Trust, a charity which provides families with seriously ill children with a place to stay.
Were it not for the charity, Kori’s family would have struggled to see him regularly while he was stuck in hospital.
The Trust provided Ms Stovell, her husband John and daughters Ebony and Ostarra with accommodation throughout the challenging period.
Ms Stovell admitted she was extremely grateful for the support, saying: “We were told that there was a room becoming available in Scott House run by The Sick Children’s Trust.
“Having a big family room in Scott House meant that both my daughters could come to stay.
“Without the ‘home from home’ and the emotional support offered I think I would’ve had a full nervous breakdown finding out my son had to have yet another heart transplant. “
The Trust said it was happy it could help Ms Stovell and her family, and that it was delighted Kori was back home in time to celebrate Christmas.
Jane Featherstone, the charity’s chief executive, said: “We are so pleased that we could be there for Kerrylee and her family and that Kori is doing well and is looking forward to Christmas at home.
“After a year of being separated from our loved ones, grandparents, brothers, sisters and friends, Christmastime is when we want to be together.
“At The Sick Children’s Trust, we want to keep families together, especially now.
“By giving a family a warm and comfortable place to stay just a stone’s throw away from the hospital ward means that a child will go to sleep knowing when they wake up, their parents are in a room not far away.”