'Amazing little boy' born with five different heart conditions to undergo fresh round of surgery

A three-year-old boy born with five different heart conditions is due to undergo another round of surgery as his family dream of him living a normal life.

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 12:26 pm
Nate in hospital, just a few days old

Nate Hetherington, three, from Washington, was born with a number of heart and lung complications that have resulted in him needing countless operations since he was just days old, and spent much of his short life being in and out of hospital.

At six days old, Nate, who was born weighing 6lb, had a shunt put in his heart during a long operation, described by his mother Tori, 33, as the “the longest nine and a half hours of my life.”

Three days later, nine-day-old Nate suffered a cardiac arrest and was put on a life support machine for two days.

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Lee Nicholson and partner Tori Hetherington with Nate

Nate’s Dad, Lee Nicholson, 40, said: “It was a very difficult time. His chest was open and you could actually see his heart. Not many parents can say they’ve actually seen their child's heart beat.”

Nate left hospital after five weeks but as he gets older, Tori and Lee are having to adapt life to make it easier for Nate.

Lee added: “He has an amazing recovery time. He had his chest cracked open then a few days later he wanted to be up and about”

Football fan Nate is expected to undergo yet another round of surgery later this month - a cardiac catheter procedure - and could end up needing a mechanical heart valve.

Three-year-old Nate Hetherington in hospital

Nate’s last surgery was in August 2019, but the operation made his condition worse and parents Lee and Tori know their son may one day require a heart transplant.

Tori said: “The whole process is horrible. A child has to die and a family have to lose their child to save ours. It’s awful someone might have to go through that pain for our child.”

Nate loves being active, playing outside and is hoping to have the chance to become a mascot during a Sunderland home game.

Tori added: “Nothing holds him back. We’ve realised recently just how brave he is. He’s just an amazing little boy. He has a heart condition, his heart condition doesn’t have him.”