A baby boy has been given a handmade heart after undergoing life-changing surgery at just 48 hours old.
Vinnie Holliday, from Moseley, Birmingham, was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) while he was still in the womb.
The rare defect meant when he was born, on November 7, he had just half of a heart, as the rest didn’t form properly.
Surgeons were forced to rewire his organ just two days after he was delivered to keep his blood flowing – but they are unsure how long he will live for.
However, his mother, Claire, 36, is amazed at his progress so far – spending only three weeks in hospital recovering.
Vinnie Holliday was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome while he was still in the womb. The rare defect meant when he was born with just half a heart
Mrs Holliday, who is married to Ben, 38, said: ‘It’s been absolutely amazing.
‘We’ve loved every second and you would never know there was anything wrong with him unless you saw the scar down his chest.
‘I take pictures every day and am focusing on building memories – we don’t think about tomorrow.
‘I’m getting no sleep but I just don’t care because I never thought we’d have him.’
The family were told Vinnie had HLHS when Mrs Holliday was 20 weeks pregnant.
She was given three options, including termination, palliative care or open heart surgery.
However, Mrs Holliday was adamant to keep him alive and give him the best possible chance at life.
She added: ‘For me, it was an instant decision. I’d carried him for 20 months and I was already showing.
Surgeons were forced to rewire his organ just two days after he was delivered to keep his blood flowing – but they are unsure how long he will live for
His mother, Claire, 36, is amazed at his progress so far – spending only three weeks in hospital recovering. She said: ‘I take pictures every day and am focusing on building memories – we don’t think about tomorrow’
‘I thought, if I just have the chance to hold him I can carry on better than if I have a termination.’
However, Mr Holliday took a bit longer to come round to the same decision.
WHAT IS HLHS?
Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is a condition in which the left lower pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle) does not develop properly.
In children with the condition, the valve between the left ventricle and the upper left filling chamber (left atrium) if often closed or small.
The main blood vessel that carried blood from the heart to the rest of the body is also smaller than usual.
This means the heart is unable to pump blood effectively around the body.
Most babies with the condition appear healthy immediately after birth but quickly become breathless if not treated.
Most are diagnosed before birth.
It is not possible to cure the condition but most children can have a reasonable quality of life if they have successful surgery to manage it.
Only about 60 per cent of patients survive all three of the required operations.
For those who do, life expectancy is in the teens.
Source: Great Ormond Street Hospital and the British Heart Foundation
After being induced, Mrs Holliday gave birth to Vinnie following a 20 minute labour. He weighed 7lbs 2oz.
There was no guarantee that she would be able to hold him, but luckily he managed to breathe on his own – allowing her to embrace him.
But then in the middle of night he stopped breathing and was put on a ventilator.
Mrs Holliday added: ‘I was hysterical.
‘We knew it was going to happen, but it was still a massive shock.’
Vinnie was then transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he had open heart surgery at just 48 hours old.
Surgeons conducted a five hour procedure on Vinnie so that the right side of his organ does the work of both sides.
Mrs Holliday added: ‘They had to rewire his heart, they call it a handmade heart.’
The family were told he wouldn’t have survived without that operation – despite it being considered risky.
He spent just three weeks in hospital, but his parents were so worried that he wouldn’t make it home that they didn’t even buy him any clothes.
Mrs Holliday said: ‘We didn’t buy a single thing as I’d mourned him as much as carried him through my pregnancy.
‘When we were told he could go home we didn’t even have a car seat, I had a complete meltdown.
‘Vinnie was ready to come home but we weren’t ready to have him.’
Doctors are unsure why Vinnie was born with just half a heart, but believe it may run in the family as Mrs Holliday’s brother passed within just a few days of being born as a result of the same condition.
Mrs Holliday was initially given three options when she found out about Vinnie’s condition, including termination, palliative care or open heart surgery. However, she was adamant to keep him alive and give him the best possible chance at life
His mother, Claire, 36, said: ‘We’ve loved every second and you would never know there was anything wrong with him unless you saw the scar down his chest’