Olivia is 4 and a wonderfully happy little girl, but she also lives with a very complex heart defect. Olivia was born in 2016 and at a routine check just as we were about to leave the hospital with Olivia, a doctor noticed that she had a heart murmur, which quickly developed into a complex congenital heart condition called DORV (Double Outlet Right Ventricle). At three days old she was transferred to Clark Clinic at the Children’s Hospital in Belfast. Little did we know this was to be our home for the next nine months.
Olivia spent the next two months in Clark Clinic before finally making it home again but unfortunately a day later she took a seizure and was rushed to the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit where she spent the next five weeks. In November 2016 Olivia had her first open heart surgery at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London. Thankfully, her heart surgery went as planned and we were able to bring her back to recover in Clark Clinic for Christmas. Getting back ‘home’ to the ward was fantastic as all the staff and the team at Children’s Heartbeat Trust were there to help us and we felt safe.
The charity arranged with another heart mum and her sister to come to the ward and have a wee photograph taken of the parents and children on the ward at Christmas and what a special thing that was. Not only had most of our family never seen Olivia in the flesh or even got to hold her but we hadn’t even got to take a decent photo of the three of us together. We never dreamed of getting a family picture but it quickly became a very treasured possession and a beautiful thing to give us for Christmas.
Regular financial support and accommodation at the hospital meant we could spend time together with Olivia and not worry about paying the car park at the hospital or having money for food at the canteen.
Olivia is now four and we have been fortunate not to have to spend another Christmas in hospital, but we know that if we do the charity will be there for us, as they are for countless other heart families in Northern Ireland each year. The team really are a big part of our lives and we see them as part of our extended family. We never dreamed we would be in hospital at Christmas with our precious daughter but so many are and sadly this Christmas will be no different. If you can help support Children’s Heartbeat Trust this Christmas please do.
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