Brooke Howe

Tiny Teen Represents Milestone in Paediatric Program

Weighing in at just over 22 kilos and standing a mere 132cm, 13 year old Brooke Howe is believed to be the smallest and lightest patient to undergo a lung transplant in Austrlaia.;

The diminutive patient, who makes up for her small frame with a big personality, recently underwent a double lung transplant at the Alfred.

Brooke, who suffers from Cystic Fibrosis, was placed on The Alfred's lung transplant list earlier this year and initially thought she might have to wait a year or more for the possibility of a transplant. But in a rare stroke of luck, Brooke received organs from a young donor only days later.

With a growing reputation for excellence in paediatric lung transplantation, The Alfred was the only facility in the country equipped with the expertise and resources to support a patient like Brooke.

Paediatric Lung Consultant, Dr Glen Westall said while her size presented some challenges in terms of the surgery, the on-going care for a young patient like Brooke remained extremely complex. "Everything from medication doses and anaesthesia levels to the provision of a stimulating rehabilitation program for a young person needs to be taken into account, "he said. "For a hospital used to treating to adults, this presents its own set of unique challenges".

Thanks to support from Ronald McDonald House Charities, Glen said several Alfred staff had travelled to some of the leading paediatric lung transplant centres in the United Statess and the United Kingdom in recent years to help establish this highly-specialised program.

He said Brooke, who is the ninth child to undergo a paediatric lung transplant at the Alfred since the program's establishment in 2005 in collaboration with the Royal Children's Hospital, had responded exrtremely well.

Almost immediately after her surgery, brooke noticed a big difference in the range of things that she could do and is enjoying the simple things like walking and talking without the aid of oxygen, and brushing her hair.

When she returns to Sydney, the vivacious teenager is loking forward to playing netball and hanging out with her friends.

Article from the Aug 2009 edition of Alfred Matters, reproduced with permission