Michelle Rose, who works in the PR team at North Kesteven District Council, started up a fundraising web page at www.justgiving.com/ElijahRose as a ‘thank you’ to the medical team after her son Elijah had surgery at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
Elijah is recovering well back home and celebrated his first birthday earlier this month, while the web page has already raised £125.31 to pay for equipment, facilities, aftercare and research for the Children’s Heart Unit and the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Freeman Hospital.
Along with husband Ashley, 34, a Bombardier in the Army, and older sons Zachary, four, and Harrison, nine, Michelle says they have gone through the biggest journey of their life so far. She explained Elijah needed ‘rewiring’ as he was born with only one working chamber in his heart - instead of two - and a special operation was needed to prevent the blood and oxygen mixing too much.
Michelle, 33, said: “Elijah has just one huge chamber which mixes it all together and doesn’t pump too well. He can turn blue when he is on the move as he is using more of his oxygen.”
Some babies can have breathing and feeding difficulties due to tiredness.
She said: “We’ve really had to watch how active he gets, making sure he rests. But over time he has learned to sit and catch his breath. He burns up a lot more calories because his body is working so hard, so we had to make sure his milk intake and meals were a lot higher - probably double a normal baby. He is also more prone to infection. Even the bacteria you can get off plaque on his teeth is dangerous.”
The eight-hour open-heart surgery has increased the amount of oxygen pumping around in his blood but it is still under normal levels and he will need another operation in a couple of years when he gets more active.
Michelle recalled: “When the surgeon came and told me everything went OK, I literally jumped on him, wrapping my arms and legs around him. I was just so happy after the eight-hour wait.”
The family come from the Sleaford area, growing up in Heckington and Cranwell.
On visiting the hospital, Michelle said: “I was gobsmacked at the amount of children affected by heart conditions. Many children have had heart transplants, others had a hole fixed. Without the support, specialist equipment and skills of the staff this wouldn’t be possible for many families, not just in the north-east.
“If it wasn’t for charities like the Childrens Heart Unit Fund we would not have this specialist help and research.”