St Leonards heart transplant teen raises money for Royal Papworth Hospital that saved his life

A teenager has raised almost £2,000 for a hospital that saved his life.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 1:39 pm
Shelley Rowse with son Billy Gladstone-Rowse pictured in their garden in St Leonards in June. SUS-210622-133012001

Billy Gladstone-Rowse, of St Leonards, became unwell with sudden heart failure at the end of March this year.

He was taken to the Conquest Hospital and then transferred to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, where he was fitted with a BiVAD (external heart pump) to keep him alive until a suitable heart donor became available.

He spent six weeks in hospital before being discharged on his 17th birthday.

On Saturday (October 2) Billy is walking from the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill to Hastings Old Town to raise money for the Royal Papworth.

Billy’s mother, Shelley Rowse, said: “Billy became on unwell the end of March. After two phone calls to 111 and the doctors, I decided to take Billy to the Conquest Hospital on April 10. He deteriorated very quickly and Billy was transferred to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge on Tuesday, April 13.

“Billy was in heart failure. He was fitted with an BiVAD (external heart pump) to keep him alive until a suitable heart donor became available.

“On the morning of April 27, one year to the day Billy’s 23-year-old cousin saved the life of a young boy by being a heart donor herself, we received the news that they had found a donor heart for my son.”

The teenager then underwent an operation for more than 10 hours.

Shelley added her son was then fitted with a pacemaker on May 19.

She said: “Billy has gone from strength to strength since his heart transplant. He really is doing amazingly well and even managed a friendly football game recently and scored a goal, with only a few short breaks.

“I’m so grateful to everybody at the Royal Papworth Hospital, and of course Billy’s donor and family making the selfless decision to help my son. Without them all none of this would be possible. I will be forever grateful.”

A Gofundme page has been set up by Billy and his family, which can be found at