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Families thank cardiology team for life-saving care

Posted on Friday 18th February 2022
Families that have been fundraising for Evelina London after treatment from our heart team

Families who have shared their stories with us for National Heart Month

To celebrate National Heart Month, we’re sharing two stories of families who’ve received life-saving care from our expert cardiology team.

Our specialist fetal cardiology service cares for babies with heart conditions before they are born, diagnosing around 200 major heart defects before birth each year.

George’s story

George, a patient, with a t-shirt that says: be strong like GeorgeGeorge, who was treated by the Evelina London heart team after heart defects were diagnoised in the womb.

In 2014, George Warner-Bryce was one of them. He defied the odds after being at St Thomas’ Hospital with six congenital heart defects – three of which had previously been picked up and diagnosed at mum Hannah’s 20-week scan.

George’s diagnosis included hypoplastic right heart, where the right side of the heart is underdeveloped; coarctation of the aorta, where the aorta has narrowing; transposition of the great arteries, meaning his main arteries were the wrong way around; and a ventricular septal defect, otherwise known as a hole in the heart.

After being transferred to the specialist Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Evelina London, George had his first heart operation at just six days old.

Mum, Hannah, from Sevenoaks, said: “George recovered really well after his first operation and we were able to go home after 10 days of being in hospital. We then had to go back to Evelina London when he was 16 weeks old for his second procedure. Luckily, now age seven, his operations didn’t have any lasting impact on his development.”

Ethan’s story

Ethan, a patient at Evelina LondonEthan, who was transferred to Evelina London for a heart operation as a newborn baby.

Internationally renowned for treating complex cases, the specialist cardiology team at Evelina London also treat patients from across the country.

Ethan was only seven days old when he was transferred from Epsom Hospital to Evelina London via the South Thames Retrieval Service, after having been diagnosed with a rare heart condition called infracardiac TAPVC. Only a few days old, Ethan was breathing quickly, had a fast heart rate and his skin was a blueish colour.

For babies born with infracardiac TAPVC, the veins bringing blood back from the lungs are not connected to the heart, meaning that the whole circulation does not work correctly and puts the heart and lungs under strain. This condition was causing his symptoms, and if left untreated it could be fatal.

Ethan was quickly taken to the Intensive Care Unit to be stabilised, before having major heart surgery the following day. After the operation, surgeon Simone Speggiorin called to say it had been a success.

Mum, Charlotte, said, “It was such a huge relief to hear those words and to hold Ethan’s hand after he came out from the operation. It was extremely emotional and we were just so incredibly thankful for all of the people who’d treated our little boy.”

Ethan was out of intensive care after only three days and discharged from Evelina London after just eight days. Charlotte said: “He bounced back so quickly, I couldn’t believe it. Within days he was starting to look well again and like a healthy little baby. Now almost three years old, he’s a happy, chilled out little lad who’ll give anything a go and loves playing with his older brother and sister.”

Ethan’s consultant and head of service, cardiologist Dr Aaron Bell said: “It’s wonderful to see Ethan make such an incredible recovery following his surgery. This is a terrific example of how a highly skilled local team can diagnose major heart problems and get the ball rolling on expert treatment straight away. Babies can be extremely resilient and it’s a testament to the strength of his parents that Ethan continues to do so well.”

Giving back to Evelina London

Both families have gone on to raise over £4,600 in thanks to the cardiology department. George’s family took on a trio of activities including abseiling down St Thomas’, while Ethan’s dad Jay ran the London Marathon.

Dr Aaron Bell continued: “I’d like to thank both families for fundraising for Evelina London Children’s Charity, to help support our cardiology services and save the lives of more children to come.”