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New surgery saves toddler’s life who had six cardiac arrests before first birthday

New surgery saves toddler’s life who had six cardiac arrests before first birthday

A toddler who suffered six cardiac arrests before his first birthday has made a miraculous recovery thanks to a pioneering operation, Mail Online reports.

One-year-old Joshua Newman was born three months prematurely with a severe heart condition that left him fighting for his life.

After suffering six cardiac arrests – four of them at just two hours old – doctors performed an operation that had never before been carried out on a baby so small.

After 22 weeks in hospital Joshua has recovered and is now at home with his family in Chelmsford, Essex.

It took Suzy Newman, 37, and her husband Alan eight years to conceive Joshua with IVF treatment.

At the 20-week scan she was told her baby had a heart condition and would need surgery as soon as he was born.

But, she said that did not prepare her for what happened when her son was born.

She said: ‘When Joshua was born it felt like a nightmare – it was so surreal.

‘A doctor explained to us that he’d suffered four cardiac arrests, and they didn’t know how long they could keep resuscitating him.

‘We couldn’t believe it – four cardiac arrests – it was horrifying.

‘After I gave birth my husband and I just had to sit for two hours and wait to find out if our baby was alive.

’But I just remember thinking that this wasn’t going to be how our story ended.’ 

Joshua was diagnosed with congenital heart disease in the womb. He was born with two holes in his heart and a narrowing of the aorta, the main artery in the body.

The narrow artery meant Joshua’s tiny heart was under too much pressure to pump blood around the body, causing him to go into cardiac arrest.

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After being born at the family’s local hospital, Joshua was transferred to Royal Brompton, a specialist heart and lung hospital in London.

It was decided he needed an operation to widen his artery, but this type of surgery was not normally carried out on babies so small.

After initial scans, doctors there said the problem didn’t appear to be too severe, so they sent him back to the local hospital to grow bigger.

But Joshua began to go downhill, having yet another cardiac arrest, and sent straight back to Royal Brompton. 

His small size was still an issue, and so once again it was decided to wait until he grew bigger before he would have the operation, but he was struggling to gain weight.

As Joshua’s condition became worse, doctors were forced to operate.

Mrs Newman said she was petrified, as doctors were not able to say whether Joshua was likely to survive. 

She said: ‘The anaesthetist at the time said they couldn’t give us any survival odds as they didn’t have any for the type of operation on a baby so small.

‘We were told the words that no parent ever wants to hear – they might not be able to bring our precious baby back. 

‘Waiting for the phone call to tell us whether he had survived the operation was truly one of the worst times of our lives.’

She describes the feeling of joy when she found out Joshua had survived.

cardiac toddler

She said: ‘But we were delighted when we were told that Joshua had pulled through – we were crying and hugging each other in the middle of the street.

‘That day Joshua broke Royal Brompton history and opened up new pathways for pioneering surgery to be performed on tiny babies in the future.’

Unfortunately, scans after the operation showed that Joshua’s problem had returned and he would need further surgery.

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Twelve weeks later, Joshua had finally grown bigger, and the second surgery was performed – and this time it was successful. 

Donor tissue was placed into Joshua’s heart to make a bigger pathway allowing the blood to flow to the rest of his body without being obstructed.

They tiny holes in his heart were also fixed.

Once again, waiting for her son to come out of surgery was terrifying for Mrs Newman and her husband.

She said: ‘Eight very, very long hours later they brought our little hero back from surgery and yet again he had been amazing.

‘He was very poorly afterwards – and suffered yet another cardiac arrest a few days later – we couldn’t believe he’d had yet another one!

‘But once again he took it all in his stride.’

After 19 weeks in intensive care Joshua finally began to improve and doctors began to allow him to breathe for himself. 

Mrs Newman said she was ‘over the moon’, when she was finally able to take Joshua home 22 weeks after he was born.

She added: ‘Walking through the door of our home, with no machines, nurses, or doctors, was the scariest thing ever.

‘But a year on, he’s doing amazingly well – he’s strong willed and determined, as he has always been!

She is now raising money for the hospital’s charity to open a new state-of-the-art operating theatre.

She thanks the hospital for their help at a truly difficult time.

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