Newborn baby's 'snoring' was sign of rare heart defect requiring open-heart surgery

Ava-Rose's 'snoring' turned out to be a sign of a heart defect. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)
Ava-Rose's 'snoring' turned out to be a sign of a heart defect. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)

A couple have revealed how their baby daughter's "snoring" was actually a sign of a rare heart defect, which required her to have open-heart surgery.

Charlotte Lake, 23, and her fiancé Nathanael Guide from Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, welcomed Ava-Rose in June, but quickly spotted she was sleeping more than a typical newborn, struggling to gain weight and making "snoring" sounds when breathing.

They raised their concerns to a midwife and Ava-Rose was taken back into hospital after it was found her breathing and heart rate were dangerously high.

After several tests, hospital staff determined she had a heart defect, and sent her urgently to Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children.

There doctors discovered Ava-Rose had a hole in her heart and her aorta was connected to the wrong place, this meant her heart was struggling to pump blood around her body, which was impacting her breathing.

Ava-Rose in hospital recovering from surgery. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)
Ava-Rose in hospital recovering from surgery. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)

Medical staff were keen for Ava-Rose's to gain some weight before she was scheduled for life-saving open heart surgery on 6 October, which was successful.

Her parents are sharing their story in the hope of raising awareness of the indicators of heart defects in babies.

"When she was born I said I thought she sounded funny – like she was bunged up with the cold," Lake explains.

"Initially doctors thought it was normal, and reassured she would probably be fine, but as time went on she seemed to be getting worse.

"She was making snoring noises, even when she wasn’t asleep – and she still wasn’t gaining any weight.

"I told my midwife I thought her breathing was strange, so she checked and found her heart rate was really fast and her breathing rates were double what was normal.

Ava-Rose recovering from surgery. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)
Ava-Rose recovering from surgery. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)

Lake says the midwife called the paediatric team in Dumfries, who sent an ambulance within five minutes.

"They initially thought she might have an infection in her lungs, or possibly pneumonia," Lake explains.

"But at the hospital doctors said they believed she had a heart murmur and arranged for another ambulance to take us to Glasgow.

"Doctors had asked if she was quite sleepy, and I’d said she was," Lake explains. "I initially thought it was a normal newborn thing, but Ava-Rose didn’t really wake up during the night like a ‘normal’ baby.

"We thought we were just blessed with a great sleeper, but it was actually because she was exhausted."

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Tests carried out revealed Ava-Rose had a life-threatening heart defect, with doctors warning that she would not survive to start school if she didn't have surgery.

"I was just trying to process that my tiny little newborn – who wasn’t even two weeks old – would need heart surgery," Lake explains.

"But there really was no other choice.

"There was also no guarantee that she would make it through surgery, however."

Ava-Rose just before being discharged from hospital after her life-saving surgery. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)
Ava-Rose just before being discharged from hospital after her life-saving surgery. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)

Lake says watching her daughter be put to sleep was the most traumatic part.

"She was crying and fighting the mask, trying to push it off her face," she says of the moment. "She was really upset and that was heartbreaking.

"Then the anaesthetic took hold, and she just went limp – that broke my heart.

"We had to leave and say goodbye, knowing that it might be the last time we ever saw her," Lake continues. "We couldn't help but wonder 'what if something went wrong?'"

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Thankfully, the operation was a success, with Ava-Rose making a speedy recovery to return home just eight days after surgery.

"Everything went well, but the hole in her heart was larger than they expected," Lake explains.

"A baby’s heart is tiny at that stage, so it's hard to imagine how much of her heart was taken up by the hole."

Ava-Rose's parents say she's now recovering at home. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)
Ava-Rose's parents say she's now recovering at home. (Charlotte Lake/SWNS)

Ava-Rose is now recovering at home with her parents describing her progress as "amazing".

"She’s slowly gaining weight and she can take a bottle again," Lake explains.

"Apart from her medication and hospital appointments, she’s back to being a normal, healthy baby."

Following their experiences the family have launched a GoFundMe to raise funds for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity and for the Ronald McDonald House in Glasgow.

Additional reporting SWNS.