A terminally ill schoolgirl who won a legal battle to refuse a heart transplant but then changed her mind has celebrated her sixteenth birthday with friends and family.
Doctors had given 13-year-old Hannah Jones just months to live as her heart had been irretrievably damaged by treatment for leukaemia when she was four.
But she made a dramatic recovery after she received a heart transplant.
Now Hannah, living the life she never dreamt would be hers, said: “I was obviously ill, but just thought I’d overdone it on my birthday. Actually, it turned out it was my kidneys failing and that’s when the reality of the situation hit home.
“I love my friends and family so much and I wanted to reach adulthood, have a family, have a career. I wasn’t so sure any more that I was ready to leave all that behind.”
Hannah, who lives in Herefordshire, expressed her joy at turning 16 and celebrated by going bowling with friends and attending her high school prom.
She said: “I never thought I’d celebrate my sixteenth, do my GCSEs or be picking a dress for my high school prom.”
“Although people thought I was too young to decide, I’d been through so much I felt I had the right.
“But everyone’s entitled to change their mind and now I’m so glad I did.”
“I’ve got so much energy now. For the first time ever I can do what all my friends are doing.
“I mean to start college in September, how cool is that?”
She added that she was looking forward to taking her driving test when she turns 18 and pursuing a career either in television or the law.
In 2008 Hannah, who had spent much of her life in and out of hospital, decided not to accept the offer of a risky heart transplant which she might not survive.
When the hospital was informed of her decision not to have a heart transplant, however, they began court proceedings to challenge that decision.
Medical law and ethics expert Dr Deborah Bowman explained that under the law, when a child says ‘no’ to treatment which appears to be in his or her best interests, the local healthcare trust is allowed to challenge that choice.