Girl who had heart surgery at two days old to welcome sister who will also undergo life-saving operation

PUBLISHED: 12:00 25 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:20 25 November 2018

Felicity Carrigan at GOSH. Photo: Louise Hubbard

Felicity Carrigan at GOSH. Photo: Louise Hubbard

Louise Hubbard

A mother whose newborn baby girl had open heart surgery has been told her second daughter will also have to endure a similar operation.

Felicity Carrigan, now seven, was just two days old when she had open-heart surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where skilled surgeons worked on an artery which was just the width of a hair.

Now, her mother Louise Hubbard, 27, has been told while little Felicity’s operation was the “best repair job” her consultant had seen in his career, her unborn daughter, who is due in March, will also face heart surgery for four different conditions at between three and six months old.

But little Felicity, keen to thank GOSH for her treatment and for the care they will give to her sister, returned to the hospital last week to become head of play for the day.

The Brundall Primary School pupil said: “I asked the Metropolitan Police to bring a police horse and a dog in for the children to see, I thought it would be nice for the poorly children. All the doctors work really hard and they’re really busy.”

Felicity Carrigan at GOSH. Photo: Louise HubbardFelicity Carrigan at GOSH. Photo: Louise Hubbard

And the youngster was also keen to raise money to give back to the hospital not only to say thank you for her surgery, but for the care they would give her sister.

She said: “It’s because they saved my life.”

And Felicity said she would have an even more special bond with her baby sister, especially since they would have the same scar on their chests. She added: “We will be a bit like twins.”

Mrs Hubbard, who lives in Edrich Close, Blofield, with husband Jack, first found out something was wrong with Felicity at her 20-week scan.

Felicity Carrigan a day after having her chest closed. Photo: SuppliedFelicity Carrigan a day after having her chest closed. Photo: Supplied

Speaking to this newspaper in 2014 she said: “Unfortunately I was told she would not survive because it looked as though she had a serious heart defect, which simply meant she would not survive after birth. The doctor advised me to have an abortion.”

But determined to fight for her little girl, who she said she had already formed a bond with, Mrs Hubbard was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, where Felicity was diagnosed with a co-arctation of the aorta.

It meant she would have an undersized heart and her life would shorten significantly.

Mrs Hubbard, a bookkeeper for Anglia Sign Casting, said: “I was quite young then, I was quite naive and you don’t really hear of the bad stories. I had not really heard of anything like it and you just expect your baby is going to be perfect.”

Felicity Carrigan after she had her oxygen tube removed as she was able to breath on her own. Photo: SuppliedFelicity Carrigan after she had her oxygen tube removed as she was able to breath on her own. Photo: Supplied

But thanks to intricate operations - one which was unsuccessful at a day old and another at six months which worked - Felicity is now a bubbly schoolgirl who enjoys nothing more than football and gymnastics.

However, when she fell pregnant a second time Mrs Hubbard was put under the care of GOSH again due to Felicity’s condition, and it was found at 16 weeks her new baby daughter would also have to have heart surgery for four heart conditions in her first few months of life.

“It’s a worry,” Mrs Hubbard said. “It’s been stressful but the support from the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and GOSH has been amazing.”

Mrs Hubbard wanted to raise awareness for other would-be mothers of the possibility of heart conditions in their babies, but also that things can turn out well.

Two-year-old Felicity Carrigan. Photo: Bill SmithTwo-year-old Felicity Carrigan. Photo: Bill Smith

Mrs Hubbard said: “You want to take the doctors’ advice but I had a bond and I felt I had to get a second opinion and I’m so glad I did, or Fi wouldn’t be here.”

She added: “I am stressed, nervous, worried [for the new baby] because I know I’m not going to have a straightforward birth or a straightforward first few months,” she said.

“But what I’d love to see is to bring the anomaly scan forward in the pregnancy. There’s not a specific reason they do it at 20 weeks and if someone finds out there’s an issue with their baby it gives them time to prepare.”

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