Sunderland tot faces heart operation

Thirteen months - old James Rowlands  of Sunderland, who is facing an operation to have the valve in his heart replaced
Thirteen months - old James Rowlands of Sunderland, who is facing an operation to have the valve in his heart replaced
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SMILING James Rowlands faces having the valve in his little heart replaced as doctors become increasingly worried about his condition.

The one-year-old’s mum has been told that a valve from a pig’s heart may be used to help repair the youngster’s damaged organ.

It is the latest in a series of setbacks for the Pallion tot who has spent a large amount of his young life in hospital.

James was only three months old when medics carried out a painstaking operation to repair a hole in the heart.

Doctors then discovered a more serious problem; a valve had burst on the right-hand side of James’s heart.

Last year, the youngster spent Christmas in hospital as the damaged valve was stitched at the Children’s Heart Unit based at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

But, surgeons have now decided more needs to be done after the valve continued leaking.

Emma, 21, said: “They now think he might need a complete new valve using either a pigs heart, which is quite close to a human heart, or a man-made valve.

“He has an appointment to see a specialist at Sunderland Royal Hospital in December, although they are quite worried about him at the minute, so they might move that forward.”

Emma, who also suffered from a heart murmur, admits James’s condition has left her with a few sleepless nights.

“You don’t really think something like this is going to happen, so when it does it’s a real shock,” she added.

Despite facing a worrying few months, James celebrated turning one last month in some style.

“He had a big chocolate cake and threw jelly all round the house. Really, he is just like any other little boy, he plays and has lots of fun, he’s just a bit smaller than other children his age,” Emma said.

Emma is now hoping that her son’s problems are cleared up as quickly as possible.

“You just want them to be well again, don’t you? I’m hoping we don’t have to spend another Christmas in hospital.”