From the operating theatre to the catwalk – amazing stories in celebration of our 150th anniversary

Posted on Wednesday 20th February 2019
Amy Lee modelling a yellow dress.

Amy Lee, who received treatment at Evelina London, is now a successful child model. (Photo credit: Ruthie Deane)

Amy Lee had life-saving heart surgery at Evelina London and is now starring on the catwalk at New York and London fashion weeks. 

Eight-year-old Amy, from East Grinstead, was just four months old when she became seriously ill on Christmas Day. After a short stay at her local hospital, she was rushed to Evelina London Children’s Hospital by our South Thames Retrieval Service and spent a week on life support in our paediatric intensive care unit.

Amy Lee walking catwalks

Consultant cardiologist, Dr Aaron Bell, said: “Amy was pretty sick when she arrived at Evelina London and her heart was becoming enlarged. It’s wonderful to see how well Amy is doing and I wish her luck in her modelling career. She is a great example of how our life-saving treatment is helping children to go on and live a healthy life.”

Jennie, Amy's mum, said: “Evelina London was amazing, without them we might not have her. Everyone from the cleaning staff and the receptionist to the clinical team were just so friendly and lovely."

Doctors discovered that Amy had patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) – a hole between her aorta and pulmonary artery that causes too much blood to be delivered to the lungs. If left untreated, PDA can lead to permanent damage to the heart and lungs and can become life-threatening.

Jennie and Amy Lee

Jennie, said: “It was the worst time of my life. I was beside myself with worry and seeing her tiny body hooked up to the machines was dreadful.

“The nurses on the unit were absolutely brilliant and the doctors helped to put me at ease by explaining what they could see on the scans and how they were going to treat her.”

At just seven months old, Amy had keyhole surgery to close the hole. A small, thin tube called a catheter was inserted into a vein at the top of her leg and X-rays were used to guide the catheter to the right position in her heart. A mushroom shaped plug was then used to seal it.

Jennie said: “When Amy is modelling, she’s in her element and has a beaming smile on her face, I am so proud of her.

20181122, Amy Lee, Evelina London patient (MUST credit Ruthie Deane) webAmy said: “I’m very very, very, very excited because it’s my favourite thing to do. My friend went to watch me in New York and I have friends who do it with me in London.”

“To look at Amy you would never know the struggles she’s been through. She has autism and a cataract in her left eye, but she hasn’t let anything stop her from doing what she loves.”

Amy has previously starred in adverts for two major supermarkets and made her debut at New York Fashion Week on Saturday 9 February. She walked at London Fashion Week on Sunday 17 February.

(Photo credits: Ruthie Deane and Rodolpho San Juan)

Our Evelina 150 Stories

Amy's journey is part of a series of Evelina 150 Stories that we are collecting in celebration of our special 150th anniversary year. Throughout 2019, we are highlighting some of our amazing patients and also encouraging them to blog about their experiences.

Since 1869, we've been saving lives, improving health and inspiring better futures. 150 years ago, Evelina London was born out of love, when Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild founded the hospital in memory of his wife, Evelina.