Brave Bea makes Christmas sparkle at festive lights switch-on

Dec 6, 2023 | Local News

A little girl who spent more than a year in hospital before undergoing life-saving surgery is helping to spread festive cheer by lighting up a Durham City Christmas tree.

Two-year-old Beatrix Adamson-Archbold, known affectionately as Bea, joined Cllr Joan Nicholson, Chair of Durham County Council, to switch on the Christmas tree lights at County Hall in Durham last night.

The celebrations marked the start of Bea’s first Christmas since a successful heart transplant earlier this year.

The toddler, from Burnopfield, fell ill with heart failure in May 2022 and spent 14 months at Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, waiting for a suitable donor to be found for a heart transplant. During that time, she underwent surgery to attach a “Berlin Heart” device, which kept her heart functioning by mechanically pumping blood around her body.

In summer, Bea received her new heart and is now doing well, although she remains on daily medication and attends regular hospital appointments to check on her recovery.

Bea was joined by her parents, Terry Archbold and Cheryl Adamson, older sister Eliza, and her grandparents, Celina and David Archbold.

Terry and Cheryl previously lost their daughter Isabel when she was stillborn in 2018. They made the difficult decision to donate her organs to help children who were in need of a transplant and are now urging others to think about organ donation.

Cllr Nicholson said: “It was fantastic to meet Bea and her family. It’s great to see that she is recovering well and enjoying all the excitement involved in the run-up to Christmas in a way she hasn’t been able to previously.

“By sharing Bea’s journey, her family are raising awareness of the importance of organ donation. Many of us can’t imagine the strength it must take to give the gift of life whilst dealing with the devastation of losing a loved one, but hopefully Bea’s story can inspire people to think about organ donation and to recognise that making a difficult choice can save several lives.”

Bea’s dad Terry, said: “Bea has been super excited about switching on the lights. It’s her first Christmas out of hospital so this is a tremendous thing to do for her.

“Bea wouldn’t be here to turn on the lights or to experience Christmas if it wasn’t for the gift of life from her donor family and we think of them every day.

“In many ways the spirit of Christmas has echos in the power of organ donation – from darkness, light.”