‘I didn’t stop crying for weeks,’ shares the mum of Baby Leo, the braveheart newborn who survived a heart surgery at barely one week.
Newborns are just so fragile and delicate. So even the thought of something like newborn heart surgery can be a nightmare for any parent. But this became the bitter truth for first-time mum Aimee Roberts and her partner Alex when their newborn had to undergo open heart surgery.
Newborn heart surgery: “It was awful. As soon as I found out I was hysterical”
The couple’s son Leo, who was born prematurely, was diagnosed with four congenital heart problems. Newborn heart surgery was the only way out, but as you can imagine, full of risks. The little one’s parents were devastated when they heard that open heart surgery was the only chance at life their baby had.
Aimee says, “Nothing can make you surrender more than having to give your child to a surgeon when there’s a chance of death. I have never cried so much.”
“It was a complete blur when they were telling us the risks, death was an option. Along with paralysis, infection, damage to spinal cord, stroke and internal bleeding,” shares Aimee.
She added that because Leo was born prematurely, they had to wait till he was the correct weight to conduct the newborn heart surgery on him. But had the doctors waited any longer, there was a possibility that he could have died.
The good news? Leo was successfully operated for two heart conditions, but two need to be reviewed. Aimee says, “ He still has two heart conditions, which we have a review for at the end of February. He’s still not perfect, but he’s doing really well.”
Aimee and Alex are both grateful to the team of doctors and nurses at Bristol Children’s Hospital for saving their little love, Leo.
Although the reasons behind a congenital heart defect in babies are little known, women with certain medical conditions or those indulging in specific habits can take precautions before conceiving.
A congenital heart defect: What does it mean?
Structural problems in the heart present at the time of birth are called congenital heart defects or CHDs. There are over 40 such defects, including holes in the inner walls, narrowed or leaky valves and missing, poorly formed or wrongly placed blood vessels and heart chambers.
Out of every hundred babies, one baby is born with a CHD, and it is the most common birth defect. When undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to death. The causes of CHD are not known but around 15 to 20% are because of genetic causes.
There are also environmental causes that you can control.
Here are some environmental factors that may play a role in your baby developing a CHD
1. Rubella or German Measles
Get yourself tested for immunity to this viral disease before your pregnancy. In case you are not immune to it, get yourself vaccinated as advised by your doctor.
Mum, it’s important to understand that gestational diabetes is generally not a reason for heart issues in babies. But if you’re already diabetic before conceiving then that may run a risk. So, you may need to carefully control your condition before conceiving. Consult your doctor when you’re planning to have a baby.
3. Drinking alcohol and smoking
Pregnant mums should avoid alcohol consumption and smoking as it increases the risk of congenital heart defects in the baby.