The Hartley Family

| 19th April, 2024

William Hartley and his co-workers at Belfast City Council, Dunbar Link Cleansing Operatives are ready to race with their hearts at this year’s Belfast City Marathon.

The Hartley Family

Isaac (6)

Belfast City Council Relay Team

Isaac (6)

We interviewed William Hartley who shares his son Isaac’s CHD journey and why he is running alongside his amazing co-workers at Belfast City Council, OSS Department in this year’s Belfast City Marathon in support of Children’s Heartbeat Trust.

Tell us a little bit about you and your family?

We are the Hartley family. I am William (41), my partner is Natasha (37) and we have two beautiful children William (11) and Isaac (6). William was born with a serious hearing impairment after a complicated birth. His mum had preeclampsia and her placenta abrupted. William was starved of oxygen and it took 9 mins to resuscitate him. He was cooled in an incubator for 72 hours. We were told to fear worst and quality of life may not be great. This was not the case. He thrived and is a smart intelligent, fun-loving boy. Fast forward 4 years and we were expecting another bundle of joy. We thought to ourselves, lightening doesn’t strike twice… This time will be better.

When was Isaac diagnosed and tell us about his journey so far?

On the 20 weeks scan our sonographer Olga noticed an abnormality with Isaac’s heart. We knew something wasn’t right by her body language. She told us this news and what it possibly could be. It turned out to be a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot which consists of four defects of the heart. Ventral Septal Defect, Overriding Aorta, Pulmonary stenosis and Ventricle hypertrophy.

This was a massive shock to us. We were then referred to the Children’s cardiology team Dr Sands and Professor Casey. They informed us of what was coming our way and how we needed to prepare for surgeries etc. The first one was open heart surgery to repair his VSD when Isaac was just 6 months old in 2018. We had to travel to London’s Evalina Children’s Hospital and stayed in the Ronald McDonald Charity House. The surgery was scheduled to last four hours and instead it lasted nine hours due to some complications. Isaac had serious hypertension blood pressure issues post-surgery but after this was managed, he made a good recovery. After further reviews it was apparent that a narrowing in his pulmonary artery needed attention to increase blood flow.

He was scheduled to have a balloon or stent put in to broaden the artery. This was in the summer of 2019. Unfortunately, after another 9-hour surgery it was unsuccessful, therefore we had to arrange for another major open-heart surgery. This took place a month later at the same hospital. This time everything went smooth. The surgery was a great success, they widened the artery by slicing it open and repairing with a patch. The surgery lasted the time it was scheduled for and there were no complications or blood pressure issues etc. We are now four and a half years down the line and Isaac is doing fantastic.

Isaac also has complex non-verbal autism, he has an extra copy of the male chromosome karyotype XYY, he only has one kidney (the right) and together with his heart condition it has been a roller coaster of a ride. He may need intervention when he’s older to replace valves. He does tire a bit quicker than most kids and he picks up quite a few infections but other than that, he is a little ray of sunshine, he is a happy boy who loves fun and laughter. He makes everyday worth while and he puts a smile on our face. We love him to the moon and back.

What was your reason for taking part in the Belfast Marathon?

So back in January my colleague Jose Zuzuarregui who is a veteran marathon runner, suggested we enter the relay, and asked if I could propose a charity to raise funds for. My immediate thought was Children’s Heartbeat Trust, who have been a tremendous support to me and my family. At the time of our surgeries, they provided us with great moral and financial support. Without their guidance and support we would’ve felt alone and confused about our situation. It helped to ease any worries and the team are so friendly and helpful. We couldn’t thank them enough.

The guys at the depot have also been a huge support and I felt it was time to give something back.

I’m delighted my colleagues, Kirk Hunter, Eddie Burns, Ryan Henry and Jose Zuzuarregui have got behind my chosen charity and we hope to do Children’s Heartbeat Trust proud by racing with our hearts.❤️

You can help support William and his Belfast Cleansing Crew (BCC) by making a donation to their fundraising page below.

Alternatively, we would love for you to help us cheer BCC and everyone else running on Sunday 5th May in aid of Children’s Heartbeat Trust.

If you can spare a few hour to help volunteer on the day, please contact [email protected] or call us on 074 8337 4910 / 028 9031 2228.


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