A Magheramorne woman whose baby has a congenital heart condition wants to establish a local support group for families with the condition.
Jennifer Wright’s baby daughter Charlotte, now eight months old, was airlifted to a London hospital three days after birth and underwent her first keyhole operation for hydroplastic right heart syndrome (HRHS) when she was just eight days old.
After undergoing a second keyhole operation five days later at the Evelina Children’s Hospital, her mother says her condition improved dramatically and the young family were finally able to return home to Northern Ireland.
On April 30, Charlotte underwent open heart surgery and, while she may need a heart transplant in future, her parents hope she will be able to lead as normal a life as possible.
Jennifer told The Times: “Charlotte has a small right ventrical which was completely blocked so blood couldn’t flow through it and the ventrical couldn’t grow. She is more tired than a normal baby as her right ventrical was a third of the size and it is responsible for pumping blood to the lungs.
“Not enough was getting through which meant there wasn’t enough oxygen in her blood. Since the operation on April 30 we have seen a big difference in Charlotte. The blood flow is better as before she had a blue tinge but now she has colour in her lips.”
Since Charlotte’s diagnosis, £5000 has been raised in her name for The Children’s Heartbeat Trust and The British Heart Foundation by groups such as Gleno Young Farmers club. In addition, her father Mark Paisley asked for donations to The Children’s Heartbeat Trust instead of birthday presents.
Jennifer is now keen to raise awareness of congenital heart conditions, and has been approached by The Children’s Heartbeat Trust to establish an East Antrim Support Group.
Speaking at the start of Heart Week, she commented: “Charlotte’s condition affects three in 100,000 children and congenital heart disease affects one in 100 babies, so local families will be affected. CHT does amazing work and it would benefit people to have a group here.”
Jennifer is appealing for local people whose children suffer from heart conditions and members of the public who can offer assistance to get in touch to help found the Children’s Heartbeat Trust East Antrim Support Group.
Recalling the support she had received from the charity during her daughter Charlotte’s illnes, Jennifer said: “When we went to stay in London for Charlotte’s operations the charity helped us financially as it is so expensive.
“There are support groups across the country which help organise support meetings including days out. It is very difficult for families of children with heart conditions to go away on holidays for insurance reasons so they rent out static caravans at Ballycastle and Newcastle at affordable prices which really helps. The charity is also campaigning to have better children’s heart facilites in Belfast.”
Jennifer, who will run the new support group, is appealing for help to locate a room or hall where the group can meet. To offer assistance or to join the group telephone Jennifer on 07971392031. To donate to the Children’s Heartbeat Trust visit: http://www.childrensheartbeattrust.org/fundraising/fundraise-for-us/