Imogen

Just 24 hours after she was born, Imogen was rushed from Norwich to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for open-heart surgery. Here, mum Ruth tells their story…

“It all happened so quickly”

“Soon after Imogen was born the midwife picked up a heart murmur. They thought it was an innocent murmur and were getting us ready to be discharged but I insisted Imogen was checked again. During this routine examination Imogen crashed. Dr Graham Derrick, from GOSH, was doing a clinic in Norwich that day; he carried out an echocardiogram on Imogen and diagnosed her as having Tetralogy of Fallot (which is when four structural abnormalities within the heart occur together).

“Imogen was put into an induced coma and we were rushed to GOSH.

"We were so scared; having just had a baby, I was shattered and I was also worried about my other daughter, Amy, who was only four at the time.”

“At just four days old, Imogen was too small for the full operation, but too poorly for them to do nothing, so they performed keyhole surgery to put a stent in her heart.

“It all happened very quickly. Imogen was born on Monday, blue lighted to GOSH on Tuesday, had the operation on Thursday and was discharged by the following Monday. 

“Back at home Imogen was quite pale and had a lot of 'blue spells'. I was very worried about her. We knew Imogen would need another operation but were originally told it might be a year before she needed it. Imogen was having weekly oxygen saturation checks, and a few weeks later they found she only had 58% oxygen in her blood. At GOSH they decided to bring her operation forward, which was a bit of a shock.

“Imogen had the open-heart procedure at 10 weeks old. This time the recovery wasn’t quite as straight forward and she suffered from a few setbacks along the way, but was discharged 10 days later."

At GOSH

“It was such a hard time for us all but the whole environment at GOSH made it easier. The parent accommodation was ready for us, so we didn’t have to think about that. The staff were all so supportive. The nurses spent a long time explaining what was wrong so that we understood. Everyone was so good with Imogen, so she felt comfortable there and she loves Dr Derrick. 

“Imogen still gets breathless and tired quickly but she doesn’t let it hold her back; she is always on the go. Since the operation, she has got much stronger and she has just started play school, which she really enjoys.

“Imogen is a little monkey, cheeky and strong willed. She likes arts and crafts, and swimming. 

“We hope Imogen can get to her teenage years before needing another operation, although at the moment it is uncertain whether she will need intervention before then. If she can hold on, by then her heart will be adult size, so it would hopefully be her final major operation, with only small maintenance operations to follow in the future. 

“I love both my daughters and I’m so appreciative to GOSH for all they do and for saving my youngest daughter’s life. I’m certain that if Dr Derrick hadn’t been there that day, Imogen would not be here with us now.”

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