Transition event inspires young heart patients with learning disabilities

Transition patient with Pets as Therapy volunteer

An inspiring event for young heart patients who have a learning disability has helped them prepare to move on to adult services. 

The event at Royal Brompton introduced the adult congenital heart disease (CHD) service and enabled the teenagers to meet each other and make new friends, as well as giving them a chance to hear from inspirational speakers who learning disabilities have not stopped them from living remarkable lives. 

George Griffiths, who has Down's syndrome, gave a moving speech, explaining that: "Before I was born, some people told my parents that it would be disappointing to hold me and have to look after me - but now I'm 19, and I'm proving them wrong. 

"I have not let learning difficulties, or my heart condition, stop me from doing what I want to do."

Karl Butler, 37, who now works as a learning disabilities advisor for NHS England, said: "Events like this would have really helped me when I was going through it all myself - it would have been great to have met other people like me." Transition patient playing the violin

Clinical nurse specialist Virginia Meira said: "Transitioning from paediatric to adult services can be upsetting for patients - but it is made even harder to understand with the added difficulty of a learning disability. We wanted to try and stop that potential upset by introducing this event, and help them ease into adult services in a way that is more appropriate for them."

Nana-Akua Mills attended with her son Jaden, who will soon be entering adult services. She said: "This is the very first chance we've had to go to an event like this since Jaden was born. My husband and I found the two speakers really moving. 

"What they showed was the other end of our son's journey - overcoming that physical and mental adversity and achieving so much. It was really good for us to know that he's got a future out there."

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