Hazel McHaffie

A heartwarming sequel

Well, here it is: Independence Referendum Day up here in Scotland, but rest assured, I have no intention of writing about it. It’s been done to death already. Moving swiftly on …

As you know, much of my life has been spent grappling with difficult choices – not in politics, but in medicine – and blog posts on these issues aren’t always very cheery reading, so I’m delighted to bring you a fantastic story this week that’s sure to warm the cockles of your heart (whatever cockles are).

Hannah's ChoiceLast year I wrote a review about the book Hannah’s Choice on this blog. It tells the real life story of Hannah Jones who, aged just 13, hit the headlines back in 2008 and challenged the courts when she defied medical advice and chose not to have life-saving surgery. And what’s more her parents found the courage to let her.

But then, Hannah was no ordinary 13 year old; she had a wisdom and perspective borne of suffering. Painful medical interventions and sobering prognoses had been her lot from the tender age of 4 when she contracted leukaemia. And now, on the threshold of adolescence, sadly, her heart was seriously damaged and her organs were failing because of the toxic effects of her chemotherapy. The doctors said her only hope was in a heart transplant. But Hannah declined that option, choosing instead to go home and spend her days surrounded by the love of her family and friends. And she was allowed to make that decision. Wow! What a furore that stirred up!

As I reported on this blog, I was surprised and delighted when Hannah’s mum, Kirsty, responded to my review, and we’ve stayed in communication since. Why am I reiterating this? Because this week marks an amazing milestone.

Hannah starts at Aberystwyth University!

This is the same girl who went home to die. Except … she didn’t. Because a year later when her condition deteriorated she changed her mind and had a transplant, only this time the decision didn’t hit the front pages. Life, Hannah had discovered, was too precious to throw away. Those of us who review high profile cases in medical ethics are often limited to a brief period of time when the stories are newsworthy, and indeed I followed this case closely when Hannah was making her choices. But it’s really refreshing to get a longer term perspective. Especially one like this.

Huge thanks to both mum and daughter for giving me permission to share this news with you. I couldn’t be more happy for them. Cause for celebration indeed.A toast

In that same blog last year I mentioned my brother Rob, who also survived against the odds when he was treated for leukaemia and things went badly wrong. He wasn’t expected to see his 51st birthday. Fifteen years later he has just marked his own milestone: retiring from work aged 65. We celebrated with him a couple of weeks ago.

Here’s to them both and all those, who like them, challenge the rest of us to take stock and re-think our preconceived notions, beliefs and opinions.

 

 

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2 Responses to “A heartwarming sequel”

  • kirsty jones says:

    Hi Hazel Just read your blog. I’m taking Han to uni in the morning – think she’s taken enough food to feed the whole uni. Congrats to you too, love to everyone. If we can ever be of help to anyone do let us know. Bye for now :) :) ×××

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