Alfie’s mum Natalie first discovered that her son had complications with his heart at her 20 week scan. She says: “Because we’d both seen Alfie a few weeks earlier at a gender scan and my husband had to work, I went to the anomaly scan on my own. I started to worry that something wasn’t right when I noticed things were taking longer than usual but when the sonographer took me to one side and told me that my baby had a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot, I was completely shocked, I just couldn’t take anything in.
“We were referred to the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital where we were told by our consultant, Dr Urzun, that Alfie would need open heart surgery shortly after birth. Our whole family were in total shock and I spent the following few weeks walking around in a daze feeling like my whole world had fallen apart. Dr Urzun was lovely though. We had scans every two weeks to check on Alfie’s progress and at each one he would reassure us that it wasn’t our fault and that everything would be ok.”
Alfie was born at the University Hospital of Wales on the 16th of June 2015 at a surprisingly weighty 9lb 4oz. Although Rob and Natalie had been told that their son would need immediate specialist care, Alfie was holding his own and within 24 hours the family were discharged.
At six weeks however, Alfie developed a virus and started having something known as TET spells, where a sufferer turns blue due to insufficiently oxygenated blood pumping through the body.
Doctors decided to operate on Alife’s heart as soon as possible and on the 8th of September he underwent surgery. Natalie says: “That was the worst day of our lives. Leaving your baby in the hands of people you don’t know goes against every natural instinct you have as a mother and although I tried to get myself used to what Alfie would look like afterwards, nothing could really prepare me for seeing his tiny body all covered in wires.”
After only a day and a half on intensive care, Alfie was discharged on to a general ward and, much to the relief of his mum and dad, was allowed home after five days. Alfie still undergoes regular tests under the care of Dr Urzun but is otherwise just like any other toddler. Last year his aunty and big sister Lily took part in the Noah’s Ark Charity Family Fun Walk as a thank you to the hospital for the care he received. This year, Alfie will be there too.
Natalie says: “Despite it being a terrible shock at the time, I’m so glad we had Alfie’s diagnosis when we did so that he could be looked after by the right people even before he was born. Raising money by taking part in the Family Fun Walk is our way of saying thank you to the hospital for the part it played in giving us the healthy, happy little boy we have today.”
If you would like to take part in this Sunday’s Family Fun Walk there are still places available to register on the day. We ask that participants raise £35 to support our work but whether you do that before or after the event is entirely up to you.
Feel free to give us a call on 02921 847310 if you need any further information or visit our Family Fun Walk page here.