Heart-op tot faces anxious wait over further surgery

Emma Rowlands with her 10-month-old son James who was born with a hole in his heart.
Emma Rowlands with her 10-month-old son James who was born with a hole in his heart.
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HOLE-IN-THE-HEART baby James Rowlands and his family are facing an agonising wait to see if he needs more surgery.

James was only three months old when medics at Sunderland Royal Hospital carried out a painstaking operation to repair the defect.

At his side was mum Emma, 21, who had also suffered from a heart murmur as a baby.

Although her condition cleared up, James’s diagnosis of a murmur at six weeks led to doctors discovering the more serious problem.

Emma, from Pallion, said: “He had a scan a week later and that revealed he had a hole on the left-hand side of his heart. Doctors said it was too big to mend itself.

“I was absolutely terrified. I’ve been on my own since I was pregnant.

“Luckily, my mam and sister live quite close and I keep in touch with my dad on the telephone.

“I don’t think either of us would have come out of it so happy without the family’s support.”

Now medics are working with Emma, to find out why James, who is one in August, is not gaining weight as quickly as he should.

The mum also faces waiting to see if her son will need more surgery.

“When he is nearly two I will find out if he needs another operation,” she said.

“When they fixed the hole in his heart, they found a valve had burst on the right-hand side and there is nothing they can do to stop it happening again.

“He is about 14 to 15 pounds and he should weigh a lot more than that.

“He is at the bottom end of the weight scale.

“He was born a healthy weight, but he is not getting as big as he is supposed to.

“He is having check-ups for his heart and is seeing two different doctors for his weight.”

Emma, who worked as a cleaner before she became pregnant, feeds James a special high-calorie milk and takes him for regular check-ups for his heart and weight.

Now she is urging other parents to go with their instincts if they fear something is wrong with their little one.

“I had so many midwives and health professionals telling me I was doing something wrong,” she said.

“I had a feeling that something was not quite right.

“I went to the doctors three days before they found the hole in his heart and they said it was just me worrying.

“If you are worried, get a second opinion.”

But she thanked the medical team who cared for James while he was in hospital.

“I would like to thank the surgeon,” she said. “James was in the intensive care unit for two days and he came in each day to check on him, then came down to the normal ward.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho