Mum: Demelza Wrigley
CHD: Transposition of the Great Arteries
Oliver was born on 18 October 2009 at 8.11pm as Cheryl Cole was singing ‘Fight for this Love’ on The X Factor – that is my ringtone to this day!
I would like to say I have some psychic powers. I don’t, but from the moment he was born I was so pleased to have a little boy, having already had my beautiful little girl, Grace in 2008.
Immediately I became paranoid that there was something wrong. I asked and asked if he was alright, to the extent that they got a doctor in to check him over, and told us he was fine.
When Oliver was born he was purple (cyanosed) and at the time we were told that this was because the pushing stage of labour had been very quick.
I stayed overnight in hospital with Oliver and noticed that his colour didn’t improve. He felt cold and would not settle. He didn’t want to feed, just suckle and be held. I held him all night until Keith and Grace came to collect us and take us home the next morning.
As the paediatricians were doing final checks before discharge, they noticed there was no oxygen circulating around Oliver’s body.
They called a specialist from another hospital to scan his heart. I was taken into a medicine cupboard and a rubber glove was tied around my arm so that they could take my blood to test for antibodies. Strangely, it was in that moment I realised it was serious – they didn’t have time for the proper equipment.
I was taken into a room with a covered cot and I was told that Oliver had Transposition of the Great Arteries and his pulmonary arteries, aorta and two smaller coronary arteries were all in the wrong place. No oxygen was circulating around his body. They managed to find a place for him at Leeds Children’s Hospital and he was
‘blue-lighted’ to Leeds. We weren’t allowed to travel in the ambulance with him. He was too ill.
By the time we arrived in Leeds they had performed an emergency balloon septostomy. He had been too ill on arrival for them to waste time contacting us for consent. But he was alive.
Oliver remained in hospital until he was 11 days old, and then underwent a 10 hour open heart surgery. He went on and off heart bypass and we were warned if he survived there was a risk he could be brain damaged as a result. He made it through surgery and after a week in hospital was discharged.
He has been reviewed ever since. They think he may need further surgery. The arterial switch was only 25 years old when he had it, so effectively, they have no idea how he will be once he reaches 26.
Despite being told the risks, Oliver does really well at school, loves sport and is a goalkeeper for his football team. He loves playing on his Xbox, is popular with his friends and is a bright, intelligent, funny and loving boy.
If there hadn’t been a place for Oliver in Leeds, it is unlikely that he would have survived, even if taken by helicopter. Apart from that, any further from home would mean I wouldn’t have seen Grace most days, and before the day that Oliver was born I had never spent a night away from her.
We are honestly forever indebted to the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit and more importantly to Oliver’s surgeon Mr Watterson, his consultant Dr Blackburn and the entire team.
We were told that there were around 50 people involved in Oliver’s operation itself. We can never thank them enough. Not only did they care so amazingly well for Oliver, but they also cared for me, and prepared me as much as they could, for what was ahead. They were fantastic.
For more information about congenital heart defects in babies, children and adults visit leedscongenitalhearts.com.