A life-changing operation – Meet George

Three years ago, George had open heart surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital. His mum, Serena, shares their story and explains why she supports Bake It Better.

“I was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, when I was 29, so both George and his brother Harry had genetic testing. This was when we discovered that George also had the gene.”

“When George turned seven, he was diagnosed with the same condition. It was devastating and the most shocking news, I’d hoped it might not develop until he was much older. I’d always been very open with George that he might develop this condition, and he knew the reasons he had to have annual scans and checks. Had he not been monitored and had the condition not been picked up when it was, it could have been really serious – he might not be here with us today if it hadn’t been spotted.”

A life-changing operation

A year after the family’s first visit to GOSH, it was decided that George needed open-heart surgery. “The hardest part was signing the papers to say the operation could go ahead. I couldn’t do it, so I got his dad Steve to sign those. The moment we left him as he was being taken into theatre was awful for me. On that day, I hadn’t cried until then, because I didn’t want him to be worried or see me upset.“

“The operation was due to last around six hours. It was the longest day of my life. It was surreal, it just felt like forever. We saw his nurse part way through and she told us that the main part of the operation, where George was on a heart bypass machine, had gone well, which was really comforting to know.”

Visiting GOSH

After a period of recovery in intensive care, George had recovered well enough to walk to his scan. Today, he returns to GOSH for scans and check-ups, as part of the ongoing and vital monitoring of his condition – but the experience isn’t quite as daunting as it once was: “Everyone’s so nice and we know George is getting the best care. We travel a long way to come to Great Ormond Street, but for your child you would travel to the ends of the earth.“

“George quite likes coming down too, he’s not scared! That’s his personality and his character, he’s very laid back. He has a really good relationship with Emma, his specialist nurse. She knows George and all our family well. She was there when George had his operation and saw him every day during his recovery. It makes it easier to have that support from everyone.”

George’s time at GOSH has coincided with fellow cardiomyopathy patient Marty. The families are both from Yorkshire and Serena and Sarah, Marty’s mum, have been able to share their experiences. “It’s really comforting, we bounce things off each other and we understand how the other feels. When our sons go into hospital it can be quite a hard time, but I’ll text Sarah and say we’re going in, and Sarah’s does the same with me. We understand each other and know how each other feels too.”

Supporting GOSH

“George has had excellent care at GOSH, so we wanted to raise some money for the hospital. We took part in Bake It Better in May 2017 and will be supporting the campaign again in 2018. Last year, lemon drizzle cake was one of our favourites! The mums were buying flapjacks and chocolate brownies for their children, and the red velvet cakes went down really well too. We had so many cakes, it was amazing how many people baked. We had a great day and raised over £800!”

“My top tip would be to tell as many people as you can! Use social media like Facebook and Instagram to promote your bake sale. You might find that even if people can’t make the date, they will bake something for you to sell. We had lots of donations because people knew the reasons we were supporting GOSH, so explain why you are doing it to get as many people on board as possible!”

Get your bake on and support vital care for kids like George at GOSH. Sign up today to host a bake sale and we’ll send you a marvellous fundraising pack.

Sign me up