Graduation day for woman who was saved by heart op

Jessica Wells
Jessica Wells

A young woman who received life-saving surgery as a baby has achieved a first class degree at Oxford University.

At just eight months old, Jessica Wells from Aylesbury was diagnosed with a rare heart condition called tetralogy of fallot and had other life-threatening problems with her heart, most notably narrow arteries.

She underwent open-heart surgery, which saved her life in 1995.

Professor Magdi Yacoub, who performed the world’s first lung and heart transplant at Harefield Hospital in 1983, carried out the operation.

A six-year recovery process at Royal Brompton Hospital followed.

Now 22, Jessica has fully recovered and despite the early health complications and ongoing treatment, she has just won a first class honours degree in history and French.

Her grandmother, Elizabeth MacLennan, is over the moon as Jessica has followed in the footsteps of her older sister, who gained a first class honours degree at Cambridge.

She said: “To get to where she is now really is an unbelievable achievement, we’re all just so proud of her.

“She had four different things wrong with her heart, including narrow arteries, and to come back and achieve what she’s achieved really is incredible.”

Jessica began her studies at Oxford in 2012, and throughout her four-year course, has also had to cope with hearing difficulties as well as her heart condition, she has only been able to hear out of one ear for most of her life.”

Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity raises funds to support research, purchase equipment and finance capital projects for both hospitals that the NHS is unable to fund.

It plays a pivotal role in supporting patient care and saving lives.