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Mitral Valve Replacement

On the 31st August 2008 daddy did a solo parachute jump and raised over £2,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital. The very next day I became ill again and was admitted to my local hospital.

My doctors and nurses carried out lots of tests to see why I was struggling to breathe and why I kept going into heart failure. Their best guess, after nearly a week, was that I had an infection in my heart.

Eventually, on the 6th September 2008, it was decided that I would need to go back to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Arrangements were made for a specialist transport team to collect me from my local hospital. They’re called the C.A.T.S team (Children’s Acute Transport Service) and they are highly trained medical personnel. They arrived at my local hospital and I was moved to intensive care to be prepared for my transportation to London. The nurse in charge explained to mummy and daddy that I would need to be intubated (sedated and ventilated) and that, because I was so unwell and unstable, there was a small chance that I could go into cardiac arrest. My nurse explained to mummy and daddy that she and her team were preparing for the worst but that she hoped everything would go smoothly.

After nearly an hour of preparation my nurse attempted to intubate me. Mummy and daddy were with me and could hear my heart monitor slowing down and speeding up again. This happened a few times and then suddenly it sounded an alarm. My heart had stopped and my nurse started CPR while another nurse placed a bag over my face and squeezed air into my lungs. Mummy screamed and daddy stood in stunned silence as they watched my nurses battle to start my heart again.

After 2 minutes my heart restarted and I was stabilised and transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in a special ambulance. Due to the seriousness of my condition the driver was allowed to travel the 160 miles with the pretty blue lights and sirens on. Mummy and daddy followed in their car and met me in my special room that I had left in April.

Lots of the nurses that had looked after me the last time I had been in London came in to see me and mummy and daddy. Although they were sad that I was so unwell they were also happy to see us all again too.

My special doctors came to see me and told mummy and daddy that they suspected I had an infection in my heart but that they thought it could be treated with some antibiotics. They said I would probably only be in London for a few days.

What nobody knew was the seriousness of my condition. I had a very serious condition called Infective Endocarditis. This condition can seriously damage heart valves and is very rare affecting around 20 people in a million in the UK every year. Treatment usually involves using very strong antibiotics which I was given for a week before my condition was eventually confirmed and my doctors realised was very serious.

After nearly a week mummy and daddy were told that I would need yet another operation to replace my Mitral Valve in my heart that had been repaired 6 months earlier. They were told that due to my weak condition and poor health there was a strong possibility that I may die. They were devestated and had to give my doctors permission to carry out the operation…..

I was very sick by now and was asleep a lot. My doctors and nurses looked after me as mummy and daddy waited for my third operation in less than a year. Eventually, on the 9th September, I was taken to the operating theatre and had my new titanium heart valve fitted. The operation took nearly 9 hours and mummy and daddy were waiting for me in my special room when I got back from surgery. My doctors and nurses told mummy and daddy that my operation went well and that the infection had destroyed my mitral valve so a new valve had been fitted.

My recovery from this operation was long and complicated as I was so ill before I had my new heart valve fitted. To complicate matters even more I was now prescribed warfarin which I will need to take for the rest of my life to keep my blood thin. This medicine couldn’t be given to me until the antibiotics had left my system though so I was initially put on a medicine called heparin. It took a long 6 weeks before I was finally able to switch to warfarin and finally allowed to be transferred back to my local hospital in November, some 10 weeks after I’d arrived at Great Ormond Street Hospital.