Written by heart mum, Ashleigh Short

“When I was pregnant we found out that our precious girl would be born with coarctation of the aorta and that she would have to go through open heart surgery at only a few days old.

This was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to deal with. We are from Scarborough, but under the circumstances I had to give birth at LGI…”

30 March 2022

We welcomed our beautiful girl Raven Valerie.


31 March 2022

I was sent home for 10 days due to testing positive for COVID-19 but I knew Raven was in good hands being cared for on Ward 43 – the Neonatal Ward.


6 April 2022

I received the best phone call from Bex on Ward L51 (HDU). Raven had been moved and I was allowed back to be with Raven as I had tested negative for three days. Raven and I were in isolation on the ward until our full 10 days were over.


When my husband and I arrived back on the ward we were told that Raven’s little heart was a little more broken than we first thought – and that there was a Plan A and a Plan B for surgery.


Plan A was the best option, and they were 70% they could perform this. Plan B was the Norwood and if I’m honest that scared us!

Raven Valerie was born in March 2022 at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

Raven was moved from neonates to the children’s heart ward a week after she was born.

Raven underwent open heart surgery at 19 days old.

15 April 2022

We were taken down to PICU as Raven’s heart was slowly giving up! The medication that was helping keep her heart working needed to be upped quite high and due to this she could have apnoeas. This was a scary time for us! She did really well for a baby that was on such high medication.


17 April 2022: Consent for surgery

We met Mr Osama Jaber, Raven’s hero! He explained everything he could about the surgery – the pros, the cons and everything in between. He didn’t know what procedure he would preform until he got into theatre and looked at Raven more closely.


18 April 2022: Surgery Day

Raven was taken down into theatre at 9:15am. After what felt like a lifetime, Mr Jaber called us at 3:05pm to tell us the best news. He had been able to perform Plan A and Raven coped very well during the operation. We cannot thank Mr Jaber and his team enough for saving our beautiful girl!

29 April 2022: Home time!

Raven had a very good recovery and after another 11 days being cared for between PICU and Ward L51 we were finally discharged and were able to be at home as a family of four.


Massive shout out to all who were involved with Raven’s care! The midwives, nurses, student nurses, doctors, consultants, registrars and, last but not least, Mr Jaber!


We would also like to say a HUGE thank you to Children’s Heart Surgery Fund for everything they have done for us while we were away from home. This journey would have been a lot tougher if it wasn’t for this amazing charity. We appreciate everything.

Raven Valerie was born in March 2022 at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

On #WarriorWednesday, we celebrate the amazing heart heroes we support in our region.

We tell their stories to raise vital awareness of congenital heart disease and recognise the care of the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.

If you would like to make a regular or one-off donation to help fund CHSF’s life-saving work, you can do so here. Thank you.

More from the blog…

Warrior Wednesday: Reggie

Warrior Wednesday: Reggie

Heart warrior Reggie has a heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) which was diagnosed before he was born. As Reggie approaches his 6th birthday, mum Michelle shares with us her family's story... My son Reggie is 5 years old. He was born with...

Warrior Wednesday: Zelda

Warrior Wednesday: Zelda

"I still remember the first time I heard of CHSF. The school I worked at was taking part in Wear Red Day. I remember a coworker telling me how her son was born with half a heart and how CHSF supported her through it." "I specifically remember her mentioning help with...

Warrior Wednesday: Ava

Warrior Wednesday: Ava

Heart warrior Ava may have been born with a heart defect but she's not letting that stop her this summer! Now 3 years old, Ava will be walking up to 3 miles a day, every day, for the month of August to raise money for CHSF...Ava's mum Jess tell us a bit more about...