A BATTLING youngster is once again on the road to recovery following serious surgery on his heart.
Little Jake Barker, two, was born with a host of serious heart problems, meaning he had to have surgery aged just five weeks.
At birth, Jake had a ventricular septal defect, which happens when the area between the two sections of the heart fails to develop, and a small right ventricle, among other problems.
However, two operations at the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle have allowed to him enjoy the normal life of a tot.
Jake’s dad, David, 22, told the Echo: “We went for a check-up with a few months ago and the doctors were concerned about Jake’s colour.
“He was looking more blue than normal and the surgeons decided it would be better to operate sooner rather than later.”
It was discovered that the blood flow from Jake’s heart to the top half of his body was not moving as freely as it needed to.
“The surgeons did the opposite of what they did last time,” added David. “This time it was the bottom part of his heart. They can’t correct the problem, so they just have to work with it.
“There’s about a two per cent chance of death in these kind of operations, but it’s more the complications that can come after it.
Jake endured a 12-day stay in hospital, with four of those spent on intensive care ward.
But now David describes him as being back to his “cheeky self”.
“He still has his bandages on from the operation and he’s got to back soon and have his scar looked at.
“Hopefully, that will be him done as far as operations go until he is almost a teenager as he’ll only be going back for check-ups every six months.”
Jake’s latest operation comes as the future of the Children’s Heart Unit remains in the balance.
It was decided in 2013 that a similar unit at Leeds General Infirmary was to be closed following a Department of Health review.
But campaigners successfully mounted a legal challenge which found that the consultation around the decision was flawed.
David, who has been part of fund-raising efforts to keep the Freeman’s unit open, said: “Things are still very much the same at the moment and I know Leeds are still operating.
“I think they should cut costs somewhere else rather than in children’s heart surgery because it’s so important to families.”