A gift that keeps on giving

Dad, Gavir explains why he is asking friends and family to swap presents for a donation to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) on his son’s first birthday.

Aryav (known as Ary), is now a bubbly, giggly, bouncy baby boy who loves music and dancing, and his parents marvel at how much he has grown since he was admitted into intensive care six months ago.

For his parents, Gavir and Shiva, from London, it doesn’t feel that long ago when they were back and forth to the doctors with their baby who was under weight and struggling to breathe. 

When they were referred to GOSH, tests revealed that Ary had three huge holes in his heart and needed urgent open heart surgery to survive.

As Ary underwent surgery on his tiny heart – which was no bigger than a large strawberry – his parents waited for a nail-biting five hours for news of their son.  

Fragile and weak

“Ary was our first child, so everything was new to us,” says Gavir. “But a few weeks after he was born, we noticed Ary was struggling to put on weight. When I picked him up I could feel his heart beating quite fast and when Shiva and I were bathing him, we sometimes noticed he would take in a breath so hard he sucked in the skin between his ribs.

“We took him to the GP several times, and even to A&E, but nothing came up as a problem. We were still worried and when Ary was six months old, we eventually got a referral to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

“The heart specialist at GOSH told us that Ary had three large holes in his heart and needed surgery. It was bittersweet news to hear that surgery should be able to fix the problem. Ary was so fragile and weak in my arms that it was frightening to think of him having an operation, let alone open heart surgery.

“We asked what everyone probably would: ‘could we wait until he was a bit older?’, but Ary was struggling and it had to be as soon as possible.”

“When we found out who the surgeon would be, we looked him up online and he had been featured in a few national newspapers about the pioneering work he has done. It was really reassuring to know he’s a world-renowned expert.”

Day of the surgery

“On the day of the surgery, Shiva and I kept ourselves busy walking around the streets as we waited for the call. We were told that it could be five hours, and when you’re watching the clock that feels like forever. After around six hours we got the call from the surgeon to say, ‘everything went well’. I still remember the flood of relief we felt hearing those words.”

Shiva adds: “It’s a shock when you first see your baby after surgery and he has all these tubes coming out of his body and bruises from the operation. The staff were brilliant at putting us at ease and we really appreciate the time the staff gave us at such a worrying time.”

It’s a shock when you first see your baby after surgery...

Gavir continues: “I think this moment sums it up. I don’t know what it is about the song but Ary loves Kingston Town by UB40: we play it and he pricks up his ears and stops crying. When he came back from surgery, a nurse was playing it for him. It’s the little things that show how much the staff genuinely care about your child.

“The surgeon told us that after the surgery Ary will put on weight and catch up with other children his age. We didn’t quite believe it would be that quick. But you should see him now, he’s even got a couple of little chubby chins!”

Giving something back

After the successful operation Ary is now full of the joys of life and his parents are marking his first birthday, which is today (23 June), by fundraising to help support other sick children at GOSH.

“Mine and Shiva’s experience at GOSH, especially meeting the doctors and nurses, inspired us to give something back,” says Gavir. “Ary has all the toys and the things he needs and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate our son’s first birthday than asking our friends and family to give a donation to the hospital that saved his life.”

Gav and Shiva have set up a JustGiving page.

Get involved

To support other children like Ary and parents like Gavir and Shiva, sign up for RBC Race for the Kids and make use of our early sign-up offer.

RBC Race for the Kids is a 5k family fun run taking place on Saturday 7 October at London’s iconic Hyde Park. It’s a fun, inclusive event where people of all ages and abilities run, walk, scoot or wheel around the course to raise vital funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. All money raised will help make a difference to seriously ill children from across the UK.

Early bird entry prices start from just £16 for adults and £10 for children.

To sign up now and for more information visit gosh.org/raceforthekids.

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