February was the British Heart Foundation’s ‘Go Red for Heart’ Month!

We were delighted to support fundraising for the British Heart Foundation during the week of 19th – 23rd February 2024, with activities including raffles, cake sales, and a wear-something-red day.  Our friend and colleague, Della Gadd from the SIPS central catering team has shared the very touching story of her son Jamie:

After taking our 7-week-old baby boy to Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH), for a routine sleep study, we arrived on a Monday morning. We were admitted to the ward to prepare but Jamie (our baby boy), while in the hospital started to struggle with feeding – his heart rate was very high, so it was decided that he would have to be tube-fed. We could not leave until both parents were trained in changing and re-inserting the feeding tube.

After spending 6 days on the ward with daily feeding tube training, it was Saturday lunchtime, and after Jamie became grey and clammy he went into respiratory distress, one of the most terrifying moments of our lives. Within minutes there were Doctors from intensive care who gave him oxygen and immediately arranged heart and lung scans.

Due to still having Covid restrictions, only two parents could be at the child’s bedside for 2 hours a day, and by this time we had gone over our 2 hours, so I had to leave, with my husband staying the night to give me a rest. I then received a phone call from my husband to say I needed to get back to the ward ASAP, as the Doctor wanted to talk to us both. I was terrified the whole journey back up to the hospital, worrying about what was wrong.

Once I had arrived, within minutes a Cardiologist Doctor came to Jamie’s cubical and asked the nurse to watch him, while he took both me and my husband to a private room. Instantly I knew this was going to be bad news, we were told that Jamie’s Mitral Heart Valve had not developed properly – the blood was being pumped back into his lungs, and the pressure was causing the left side of his heart to double in size – he would surely die if he did not have open-heart surgery soon, but even if they repaired or replaced the valve, he may still not make it due to him being so small and weak. 

There are just no words that can explain how we, as parents felt to be told this devastating news. Jamie was transferred down to Intensive Care and his heart surgery was scheduled for that coming Wednesday 9th March 2022. We will never forget that date.

Jamie underwent open heart surgery and had a Mechanical Mitral Valve replacement, we were given a parent room in the hospital so we could be close by to him, just in case anything happened, and it gave us the privacy we needed to wait for our son to come out hopefully alive, which we prayed for the whole 6 and half hours he was in the operating theatre (it felt a lot longer, I can tell you).

Jamie is now 2 years old and is doing great, full of energy and mischief! He will be on Warfarin for the rest of his life and will need his mechanical valve changed again at 10 years old and 18 years old, due to growth.

The British Heart Foundation needs donations for them to continue to carry out research and develop lifesaving breakthroughs in heart conditions. 

We all have a heart and never know if we or someone we love will need this amazing work and the developments that the BHF does. As Jamie is on Warfarin to keep his mechanical valve working and not clotting with blood, the BHF is trying to develop a new, or change the current valve shape, so people such as Jamie won’t need to take Warfarin daily and therefore eradicate the need for frequent INR testing of Warfarin levels, and to be very cautious not to fall or sustain injury causing the risk of internal and external bleeding.

Thanks for reading Jamie’s Story.  Della