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Baby boy born with half a heart thrives after surgery

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 8th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A nine-month-old baby boy has confounded doctors, living well in spite of being born with half a heart. Little Ryan Black was rushed to a specialist hospital when he developed severe breathing difficulties after his birth last August, when doctors discovered that he had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. A condition affecting one in 5,000 children, the left side of Ryan's heart had not developed in the womb.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Given only a 25 percent chance of survival, little Ryan had open heart surgery when he was eight-days-old and had a second operation two days later. Ryan had a third heart operation in February of this year. Now nine months old, he is expected to make a full recovery.

"Naively, you never think your child will be ill, let alone seriously ill, so you are just helpless because there is nothing you can do," his mother, 34-year-old SallyAnn Charlton from Rainworth, near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire said. "It was a huge shock. It's been a roller-coaster journey and my head was everywhere for the first few weeks.

"I'm a very positive person anyway, but you have to be, you have to fight as much as you can. Ryan is a fighter, the doctors have all said that, and hopefully he will continue to fight."

Born at Kingsmill Hospital in Mansfield on August 15, 2012, Ryan was rushed 50 miles to the specialist heart unit at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester when he fell ill.

Medics scanned his heart and confirmed he had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Put on a ventilator and underwent open-heart surgery, Ryan was just eight days old.

During a six-hour operation, surgeons inserted a shunt into his heart to pump oxygen rich blood from his lungs around his body. Ryan had to undergo a second open heart operation when he was ten days old and was kept on a ventilator while his mother held a bedside vigil.

He was rushed back to hospital last February after outgrowing the shunt and struggling to breathe. Doctors then performed a third open heart operation to remove the shunt and he now uses a vein in his neck to help supply his organs with life-giving oxygen.

Recovering, Ryan has to sleep on a special "sensor mat," which will sound an alarm should he stop breathing.

Ms Charlton is now raising money for Ryan's medical equipment and is fundraising for heart charity Keep the Beat, which works with Glenfield Hospital.

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