A mother has released incredible pictures of her baby recovering from open heart surgery – when he was just 18 HOURS old.
Chloe Woods, 31, was devastated when a scan just after birth showed baby Rory was suffering from three congenital heart problems.
Both she and partner, tree surgeon Chris Lane, 38, were told their son would need open-heart surgery – and were told to fear the worst.
In rare cases, heart defects can sometimes require immediate surgery following birth to ensure the best chance of survival.
And the new mother said she had “never cried so much” as when Rory suddenly started grunting in pain just 40 minutes after being born on March 11 weighing a healthy 6lbs 6oz.
Doctors at Worcestershire Royal Hospital initially diagnosed him with wet lung syndrome and monitored Rory overnight before rushing the tot to Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital the next day.
Agonisingly, his parents were warned their newborn son was so ill he may not survive the 40-mile journey but it was the only way to save his life.
Incredibly, the battling tot 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).
His tiny body temperature was lowered to almost hypothermia levels before they could operate the next day – when he was just 18 hours old.
And although the surgery was a success, Miss Woods said it was “awful” seeing her son lying “lifeless” under a heater to bring his body temperature back up.
Miss Woods, who works in a fruit and vegetable shop, said: “Everything seemed absolutely fine, no problems at all and we were so happy and such proud parents.
“Then our whole world came crumbling down.
“Just 40 minutes after he was born he started grunting and his oxygen levels kept dropping.
“He was taken to neonatal intensive care (NICU) and we were told he had wet lungs.
“We didn’t actually see him again until 10.30am the next day, and still we thought he had wet lungs.
“We were then told he was being transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital as this was something they could investigate further.
“At 12.30pm the same day our whole world came crumbling down.
“The doctors arrived to transfer him and we were then told it was not wet lung, it was a very serious heart condition.
“They then told us he may not even make the journey because he was so poorly.
“We were put into the ambulance, and Rory was secured into the back in his incubator covered in wires and tubes and off we went.
“The journey felt like it lasted a lifetime.
“When we arrived at Birmingham Children’s Hospital we were taken to intensive care, where Rory’s dad Chris met us at the entrance.
“A whole team swarmed around our tiny baby and immediately got to work.
“Hours passed and then we had the dreaded news. We were taken to a lovely parents’ room with Rory’s surgeon.
“She was lovely and explained everything. Rory has a very rare heart condition that is only seen up to ten times a year in the hospital.
“We were told if he didn’t have the operation to correct it he would die. We had no choice but to sign the paperwork.”
The couple faced an agonising wait to find out if the open heart surgery on Rory had been a success.
Miss Woods added: “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.
“That week was the longest week of our lives.
“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 uptown 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.
Miss Woods, who has three other children, Naomi, 14, Mollie, four and 18-year-old Jack, was finally able to return home with Rory on March 25.
She said: “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.
“It was actually incredible that he went from being so poorly, to almost fine with no hiccups along the way.
“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 and then add Covid-19 to that.
“Not being able to go to your parents for support or even just so you can have a shower or a sleep.
“We haven’t been able to see grandparents and great grandparents, aunties and uncles or cousins.
“We haven’t even been able to just do the normal things like go for a coffee and walk around a few shops.
“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.
“Some days are good days, and some days are long lonely days.
“But 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.”