At our 20 week scan, expecting to hear our baby was growing and all was well, we were given the scary news our new baby had a heart condition. Nothing can prepare you for the shock. I always hear new parents say “I don’t mind what it is, as long as they’re healthy”, well what if they’re not?
We knew our baby would have to be born at Auckland Hospital, not knowing if we would be bringing a baby home at all. Unfortunately, Luke’s condition could not be confirmed until he was born. On day two of life, under CT Scan, it was confirmed as Tetralogy of Fallot with Pulmonary Atresia and MAPCA’s.
Being so far from home, and unable to have our older daughter visit the NICU I was pining to get home to the farm. We were told to enjoy the time we had with Luke as he was a very sick baby.
Finally, we were able to get home to the farm and have some family meet Luke, he was still tube feed and on oxygen all the time. As he was constantly hooked to monitors I had noticed his oxygen saturation started to drop significantly one morning so I decided to rush him to Southland Hospital where he was set up for monitoring and we waited.
Our doctors discussed Luke’s condition with Starship and before we knew it Starship were on their way to collect Luke. Briar, our daughter, flew with me on the Starship plane while my husband Craig flew commercial not knowing if he would see Luke still alive.
On arrival to Starship it was all go, Luke was intubated and the tests started. The next day Craig and I were pulled into a meeting room and told the worst news – Luke had around 12 hours to live. I felt my heart leap, and thought I was going to be sick, I grabbed Craig and burst into tears.
The team told us we had two options – sit with Luke, hold him, take photos and make some memories while he passed away – or take him to surgery, although the team were not confident as Luke was just too small. To us there was no question…surgery was the only option, we had to try right?
We were taken back to Luke in PICU. I had doctors, nurses, and theatre staff all talking to me, asking us to sign paperwork, and then Luke was taken. It all happened so fast, I was a wreck.
After what felt like 10 years, my phone rang to say Luke was off bypass and he had survived surgery. We had to wait around an hour while he was transferred to PICU. Our amazing surgeon arrived to say they had managed to create a shunt to help the blood flow from his aorta to his pulmonary artery.
I was over the moon but soon brought back to earth being told that Luke now had to make it through the night. Luke made it through that night, and the next, and the next week and soon he was blowing all expectations out of the water. Bringing my boy home after that journey was one of the best moments of my life.
Luke has since undergone three more open-heart surgeries, five cardiac catheters, and so many more procedures and tests.
Heart Kids NZ have been such a huge part of our journey, supporting us both at Starship but also while we’re home in our community. We’re so grateful to them!
~ Hannah Drummond, Five Rivers