Imagine being told at 20 weeks pregnant that your baby was going to be born with a serious heart defect. That's the reality 25-year-old Kayleigh Dingle faced last year when she found out at her 20-week scan that her baby boy had a rare - and quite serious - heart condition. As if that weren't enough bad news, doctors also discovered that he had two holes in his heart.
"Eddie has transposition of the great arteries, which is a congenital heart defect," said Dingle, who is from Cornwall, UK. Transposition of the great arteries occurs at birth and is due to abnormal development of the fetal heart during the first 8 weeks of pregnancy. Essentially, the large vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs, and to the body, are improperly connected, or "swapped". Infants with this condition will only have oxygen-poor blood circulating through the body, and this is fatal if left untreated.
Dingle and her fiancé, Curtis Newberry, 28, welcomed their son Eddie on May 17 of this year. Six short days later, the newborn baby boy underwent his first operation - followed by a second only a week later. Incredibly, the second operation involved the removal of his heart so that it could be repaired, and putting the baby on a bypass machine. Although it lasted a total of ten hours, the procedure was successful.
"He was such a little warrior and got through it all," said Dingle. "Having your first baby is scary enough without all that."
Unfortunately, that wasn't the last of the operations for little Eddie. After remaining in recovery for five long weeks, the family had to make the five-hour trek from Cornwall and return to Bristol Children's Hospital in July for Eddie's third operation. Fortunately, Eddie came through it with flying colours and today, he is doing really well and home with his family.
The family of three is grateful for all the help they received during Eddie's surgeries and recovery, especially since they were able to stay at Ronald McDonald House, a charity that provides accommodation to the families of critically ill children.
"It cost us just £20 pounds (a little over $25) for five weeks to stay at Ronald McDonald," said Dingle. "Without this, we wouldn’t have been able to stay up there with our poorly baby."
As a token of their gratitude, the family organized a fundraiser to help raise money for the charity that was there for them when they needed it the most. So far, they have raised £7,000 pounds - just over $11,000.