Episode 2: 'Fight To Breathe'

The second episode of the BBC documentary series Great Ormond Street follows patients with serious respiratory conditions and their families as they make the difficult decision of whether to join the lung transplant list.

Great Ormond Street Hospital is one of the largest children’s heart and lung transplant centres in Europe. A transplant can offer children a vital second chance at life, but a shortage of donors means the average wait for a lung transplant is a year, and 25 per cent of patients will die whilst they are waiting.

Read more about the patients and clinicians featured in the 'Fight To Breathe' episode, below, and find out how you can help.

The patients 



11-year-old Charlie has cystic fibrosis and his lungs were slowly failing when he first came to Great Ormond Street Hospital for a transplant assessment.

When Charlie and his family made the decision to join to transplant list, they waited just 14 days for the life changing call that a new set of donor lungs was a match for Charlie.It was one of the shortest waiting times in GOSH’s 25 year history of giving children new lungs.

Read Charlie’s story 


Chloe and nurse

12-year-old Chloe has been treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital for cystic fibrosis since she was eight months old.

As Chloe got older, the time she had to spend in hospital gradually increased as her condition worsened. In the three years before she joined the lung transplant list, Chloe was spending three weeks at GOSH every eight weeks.

The family knew the wait for donor lungs could be a long one – especially as Chloe has a rare blood group which meant it would be harder to find a match.

Read Chloe’s story



Jessica, now 15, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis a week before her first birthday.

At first, her symptoms were not severe and she was able to lead a normal live. However, as she got older she had to be admitted to hospital more frequently.

When doctors first suggested that Jessica might need a lung transplant, she made the decision not to join the transplant list as she didn't feel ready. However, her condition worsened over the next couple of years and she reconsidered the prospect of a transplant.

Read Jessica’s story



Louie was born with very small lungs which had not fully developed, and spent most of his life at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Sadly, Louie’s condition deteriorated and he passed away before he could have a lung transplant.

Louie’s mum, Alana, says: “Louie's condition was so rare, just like him! We pretty much lived in hospital for two years - it was our home and we loved our bubble and always made the best of each day.

“His fight to live was incredible and as a mother I couldn't be more proud that he was mine. He stole the hearts of everyone who met him and always made a lasting impression of smiles and happiness. There will never be anyone quite as unique as Louie Jak, my best friend and warrior.”

The clinicians

Colin Wallis

Colin Wallis

Dr Colin Wallis is a consultant in paediatric respiratory medicine in Great Ormond Street Hospital’s Respiratory Unit.

He has a special interest in cystic fibrosis and chronic ventilatory disorders and he is also an active member of the respiratory research team at the UCL Institute of Child Health.

Dr Wallis trained at the University of Cape Town and worked in Cape Town and Canada before joining the Respiratory team at GOSH.

In August, Dr Wallis is taking on the challenge of the Prudential Ride London-Surrey, cycling an incredible 100 miles to raise vital funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity.

Read more about Colin’s work

Helen Spencer

Helen Spencer

Dr Helen Spencer is a Respiratory Paediatrician and has been the Clinical Lead for the Lung Transplant service at Great Ormond Street Hospital since 2007.

She first worked at Great Ormond Street Hospital as a junior doctor in 1997 and her areas of interest include end-stage cystic fibrosis and other lung diseases.

Helen lives in London with her young family.

Read more about Helen’s work

Paul Aurora

Paul Aurora

Dr Paul Aurora has been a Consultant in Paediatric Respiratory Medicine and Lung Transplantation at Great Ormond Street Hospital since 2002.

His specialisms include lung transplantation, cystic fibrosis, severe or end-stage lung disease, rare and congenital lung diseases, lung disease in children with multi-system disorders and asthma/preschool wheeze.

Dr Aurora is the hospital’s academic lead for respiratory medicine, and is very active in research. He has published more than 70 peer reviewed research papers in the last decade, mostly in the fields of cystic fibrosis, preschool wheeze and lung transplantation.

Read more about Paul’s work