Norwich baby’s recovery from heart surgery

A family from Norwich were all smiles today because their daughter, who was diagnosed with having a hole in her heart seven months ago, has made a full recovery from major surgery.

Mark Carpenter, 41, and wife Louise, 39, of Dussindale, have also been thanking the charity that helped them while their daughter Issey, now nine months old, underwent the surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), in London.

Issey was born four weeks prematurely on March 28 last year and, although everything appeared to be fine at first, a health visitor noticed her breathing was abnormal during a routine visit when she was six weeks old.

Mrs Carpenter, of Lenthall Close, off Dussindale Drive, said: 'We knew I'd have to have a c-section because she was breach, but being our first, we were more excited than worried and couldn't wait to have her. At the time everything appeared to be fine'

Mr Carpenter added: 'She was doing very well and we were extremely proud parents. [The health visitor] noticed her breathing was a little heavy and asked us to book an appointment with the doctor immediately. Although concerned, we just thought that Issey had a cold and had mucus that she could not disperse.'

However, after visiting the doctor, Issey was referred for an appointment at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital on June 12 for further examinations.

'It was at this appointment that our world fell apart,' said Mr Carpenter.

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'We got the results the same day and it was complete devastation. It was like it was a dream.'

They were told that Issey had a 10mm hole in the lower chambers of her heart and she was going to be referred to cardiac specialists at GOSH.

'Within a month we found ourselves on our way to London so that Issey could undergo her pre-operation assessment before the big operation the following day.'

GOSH were able to put the family up in a hotel for the first night, but after that they could only offer accommodation for Mrs Carpenter so she could stay with Issey at the hospital while Mr Carpenter had to find alternative accommodation.

'This was something that had never crossed our minds,' he said.

'I did not account for not only the emotional strain of the thought of being separated from my daughter and wife during an extremely stressful time, but also the financial cost of staying at a hotel or bed and breakfast in central London.'

This is when the couple were put in touch with The Sick Children's Trust and were able to find accommodation in Rainbow House, which they described as a 'home from home'.

Only a five minute walk from GOSH, it meant the couple could stay together while Issey was being cared for in hospital, following her operation in August.

Mr Carpenter said: 'Being at Rainbow House meant we could focus on spending time with our daughter whilst being together through those initial difficult days after Issey's operation.

'I cannot thank The Sick Children's Trust enough. They were there when we needed them most and without them I do not think we would have coped as parents.'

Issey's operation was a complete success with only her fading 'special scar' as a reminder. She will also have to be monitored for the rest of life, initially every six months.

Mr Carpenter said: 'It's like having a new baby home with us. She's developing like a normal nine-month-old. We are so grateful to all concerned in helping her on the road to recovery, including The Sick Children's Trust.

Mrs Carpenter added: 'I think it's really important to be aware of the smaller charities. They genuinely care and The Sick Children's Trust were like a family away from home.'

The Sick Children's Trust provides support for families with sick children in their accommodation throughout the UK. For more information visit www.sickchildrenstrust.org.