Sunderland heart surgery baby’s smile of hope

Layla Grace Elaine Davis
Layla Grace Elaine Davis
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MINUTES after this picture was taken, tiny Layla Davis underwent heart surgery in a desperate bid to save her life.

Unable to hold, cuddle or even touch her baby, her mother Amanda, is today at her bedside in intensive care.

Speaking from the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, Amanda, 29, said: “When she came out of surgery, she was so sick, she was sedated, almost paralysed and I really thought we were going to lose her.

“As a parent, you want to protect your child, but there was nothing I could do. I just felt so helpless.”

Seven-month-old Layla, of Hall Farm, who was born on June 7 with a catalogue of heart defects, is now off the critical list.

They were only picked up after a doctor at Sunderland Royal Hospital feared there was something seriously wrong with the newborn.

Scans would reveal Layla was suffering from mitral stenosis, mitral valve regurgitation, pulmonary hyper-tension and aortic stenosis.

It meant the valve in the left side of her heart was not working properly, pumping blood back into her tiny lungs.

Losing weight rapidly, she was taken to the Freeman Hospital where, last July, she underwent her first heart operation in a bid to try and repair the heart valve.

“The repair only held for two weeks,” said Amanda “Then we were back to square one.”

By Christmas last year, Layla was losing weight again and readmitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital with bronchitis.

In January, she was back in the heart unit at the Freeman.

“They decided they were going to operate again last Tuesday,” added Amanda, who also has a son, Makenzie, nine, and daughter, Mia-Jae, five.

“When that picture was taken, she was smiling away, obviously oblivious to the fact she was about to undergo surgery.

“She has been such an inspiration, she’s never grumbled, I don’t know how she does it.”

Amanda and husband Stephen, 29, a Royal Mail worker, then faced the anxious wait for Layla to come out of theatre.

It was the first time in 20 years such a heart operation of its kind had been performed at the hospital.

“I haven’t been able to touch her since the surgery, which the doctors say has been a success,” added a relieved Amanda.

“What’s happened to our family has changed all our lives, it has really made us appreciate what we have.

“Life isn’t about money or cars or clothes, life is what you make it and we plan to make it a happy one.

“I’m just looking forward to picking her up and giving her a cuddle.

“This has made us appreciate every single thing we have and, at the minute, we are just counting our blessings.”

Twitter: @craigjourno