The Strain Family

| 5th April, 2024

Laura share’s her son Ben’s CHD story so far and the support she has received.

The Strain Family

Ben in hospital

Ben Strain

We interviewed Ben’s mum Laura who shares with us his story and the support they’ve received.

Tell us a little bit about you and your family?

My name is Laura, my husband Jonathan and I are parents to three boys, Mason 9, Jacob 6 and our youngest  Ben who is now 5 months old.

When was Ben diagnosed with a heart condition and how does it affect his daily life?

When we went for our 20 week foetal scan, we were told there was something wrong with our baby’s heart rate. They were very unsure the reasons behind it and we were told to prepare for the worst as they couldn’t determine exactly what was wrong. We were devastated; to be told you might not make it to term or we might not go home with a baby was a day we both will never forget. We were then transferred to the Royal Maternity Hospital, where the next few days I spent as an inpatient on the maternity ward getting scans and more tests. No one could give us any answers which is very scary. I was scanned daily and also had checks every 4 hours via a heart doppler. Nothing was changing, his heart rate was extremely low for a baby but he seemed to be tolerating it ok as far as they could tell.I spent a couple of weeks in the maternity ward but the decision was made that I could go home as I had the  boys to look after as well and to come back weekly for scans.

The next few months we were monitored weekly trying to gauge when would be the latest we could leave him before having to give birth. Due to his heart condition, it was agreed I would have to deliver in the Coombe Maternity Hospital in Dublin due to him possibly needing surgery after birth to have a pacemaker fitted.

On the 31st October I  had an appointment in the Royal for another scan but I had woke that morning and was very aware that his movements had slowed down, so the decision was made that we go straight to The Coombe to have an emergency c-section.

On 1st November at 1.15am our little miracle Ben was born, he was taken straight to the neonatal intensive care unit where he stayed for the next few days for monitoring. Ben spent four days in Coombe before being transferred to the Children’s Heart Centre at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin where he stayed another 5 days. Finally when he was 9 days old we were told he could be moved to the NICU in the Royal Belfast which was great news. Ben was holding his own and now the plan was for him to grow and put on weight with the plan he would get fitted with a pacemaker when he was the correct weight needed for surgery.

Ben was surprising us all with how strong he was and was eventually moved to Clark Clinic where he remained. On the 8th December we were finally told we could go home with Ben to complete our little family.

Ben has been back every few weeks for checkups to the Heartbeat Clinic in the Royal, with a few set backs with his feeding the decision has been made for surgery to take place this month (April) to have his pacemaker fitted.

What support did you receive from Children’s Heartbeat Trust?

The support we have received from the Heartbeat Trust during this whole journey is something we will never forget. From phone calls checking in on Ben to the financial support when travelling to Dublin and even just a friendly face when they visited the ward weekly in Clarke Clinic, they are always there to answer any questions we may have and have been a massive support to us along the way.

What was your reason for signing up to this challenge and what attracted you to it? Are you taking part with friends or family?

I decided to take part in the 40 miles in May to help give back and hopefully raise as much as I can to help with all the hard work that the Heartbeat Trust does for families just like us.

If you’d like to take part in 40 Miles in May you can sign up here:


Get in Touch

If you would like to speak to other parents from Northern Ireland that have been in your position and can offer some non-medical advice.

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