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Tebay heart operation baby back home
AN EDEN family welcomed in the New Year by toasting the health of their baby daughter who is home safe and well after undergoing open heart surgery.
Four-month-old Emily Smith, of Ashton Gardens, Tebay, is making good progress according to parents Helen, 35, and Martin, 40, following an operation which repaired veins in the left side of her heart.
Mrs Smith, an intensive care nurse, said: “It’s been quite a journey since she was first diagnosed with heart problems so we’re looking forward to the New Year and having a fresh start.
“It was a very, very worrying time for us all so it’s lovely to be all back together as a family.”
The youngest of three children, baby Emily was diagnosed with the extremely rare condition; total anomalous pulmonary venous connection (TAPVC) in November 2010.
She was first admitted to the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle with bronchiolitus but after she failed to respond to treatment was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Doctors there ran an echo scan which revealed the left side of her heart had no veins attaching it to the lungs.
“Because she had no veins on the left hand side of the heart, the right side was having to do all the work and had become enlarged,” said Mrs Smith.
“She also had a hole in her heart but that was in fact keeping her alive because it was helping the oxygenated blood get around the body.
"Essentially it all just needed re-plumbing.”
Mrs Smith said that while it was a relief to finally have a diagnosis the thought of major heart surgery on their tiny baby put a huge strain on the family.
“You never know with surgery of that scale whether you’ll see someone again, so it was a terrifying thought on the day of the operation that we might have said our last goodbyes to our daughter,” she said.
But Emily’s surgery at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, which specialises in children’s heart operations, was a success and she was discharged in time to spend her first Christmas with siblings Edward, aged four, and Molly, 20 months.