A mum has shared incredible pictures of her baby recovering from open heart surgery, when he was less than a day old.
Chloe Woods, 31, and her partner Chris Lane, 38, were devastated when a scan just after birth revealed newborn Rory was suffering from three congenital heart problems.
The couple were told their son would need open-heart surgery, and warned they should prepare for the worst.
In rare cases, heart defects can require immediate surgery following birth to ensure the best chance of survival.
The new mother first realised something was wrong when Rory suddenly started grunting in pain and his oxygen levels dropped just 40 minutes after being born on March 11 weighing 6lbs 6oz.
“Everything seemed absolutely fine, no problems at all and we were so happy and such proud parents. Then our whole world came crumbling down,” she says.
Doctors at Worcestershire Royal Hospital initially diagnosed the newborn with wet lung syndrome and monitored Rory overnight in the neonatal intensive care unit before rushing him to Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital the following day.
Agonisingly, his parents were warned their son was so ill he may not survive the 40-mile journey, but were told moving him was the only way to save his life.
“We didn’t actually see him again until 10.30am the next day,” Woods recalls.
“The journey felt like it lasted a lifetime.”
Incredibly, however, Rory made it to hospital where doctors diagnosed him with Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection (TAPVC) along with Arterial Septal Defect (ASD) and Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA).
In order for doctors to operate Rory’s body temperature had to be lowered to almost hypothermia levels.
The surgery was performed the following day when the tot was just 18 hours old.
“We were told if he didn’t have the operation to correct it he would die,” Woods says. “We had no choice but to sign the paperwork.”
Following the operation, the couple faced an agonising wait to find out if the open heart surgery on Rory had been a success.
Miss Woods describes how “awful” it was seeing her baby son lying “lifeless” under a heater to bring his body temperature back up.
“Six hours passed, and at 11pm that same day, our tiny little boy was back in intensive care and we were told the next 24 hours were critical,” she explains.
“That week was the longest week of our lives,” she continues.
“Not being able to hold your baby, feed them or change them is the most heartbreaking feeling, you feel so helpless.
“Looking over a cot, with a little baby covered in wires, tubes and hooked up to so many machines breathing for him and feeding medication to him is absolutely heartbreaking.
“Every night you go to bed and wonder if you will get a call or be told something has gone wrong.”
Incredibly, over the coming days, Rory’s strength returned until he was finally able to breathe on his own.
“Eventually all the wires and tubes were gone and after seven days Rory was breathing on his own and we were then transferred to a ward just to monitor his feeding,” she says.
And after over ten days in hospital Miss Woods, who has three other children, Naomi, 14, Mollie, four and 18-year-old Jack, was able to return home with Rory on March 25.
“It was actually incredible that he went from being so poorly, to almost fine with no hiccups along the way,” she explains.
While the family are thrilled to have Rory home, the coronavirus pandemic has provided an added complication.
“Life has been so difficult during lockdown, we have all had to be so careful because of COVID-19.
“It's very difficult being new parents again, but even harder with a cardiac baby.
“Not being able to go to your parents for support or even just so you can have a shower or a sleep.”
“It's really not the way I imagined spending my maternity leave. But luckily we have face time and are able to send videos and updates to family and friends.
The family say though some days are more difficult than others, they are thrilled to have Rory safe at home.
“We are so lucky that Rory is here, and amazing all the doctors and nurse who we are forever grateful to. He really is a miracle baby.”
Additional reporting SWNS.