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Meet the smallest baby ever to undergo life-saving heart surgery

Little Eleana weighs just 3lb 5oz

Posted: 23 August 2011
by Amanda Pauley
Smallest Baby
Little Eleana is the smallest ever to undergo life saving surgery

Premature baby Eleana Hastings, born weighing just 3lb 5oz, has become the smallest baby to undergo open heart surgery in Britain.

She arrived six weeks prematurely with a hole between two chambers of her heart and dilated pulmonary arteries and surgery was necessary to save her life.

In the intricate four-hour procedure, cardiac surgeon Mr William Brawn at Birmingham Children’s Hospital managed to close the hole in her heart and reconstruct the lung arteries to relieve the compression of the lungs.

A second heart operation followed ten weeks later.

Parents Francesca and Darren, both 36, are delighted with the results.

Francesca said: “Despite all this, she is a happy girl, a great favourite with the staff and her doting big brothers and sister.

“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster but now we’re looking forward to the day we can take Eleana home for good.”

The Coventry couple were delighted to be expecting their fourth child together, but discovered something was wrong at a routine scan 22 weeks into the pregnancy.

Francesca said: “We had gone for a routine scan. We weren’t expecting anything untoward but it revealed Eleana had a heart problem.

“But it wasn’t until we saw Dr Desai, a consultant fetal cardiologist at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, that we realised just how serious the condition was.

“Up until this point we had taken it all in. It wasn’t until a midwife at Birmingham Women’s Hospital asked if I was ok that the floodgates opened. I burst into tears.”

Eleana was born at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire and was rushed straight into a neonatal care bed where she remained stable but had problems maintaining her oxygen levels.

After spending nine days in intensive care, she was transferred to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for a four-hour procedure to close the hole in her heart and reconstruct her lung arteries.

Ten weeks after her major open heart surgery, she underwent a second heart operation to enlarge the way into her lung arteries and reconstruct the still lung arteries.

She has also had two bronchoscopes to check the condition of the air passages from the inside, and needs a pneumatic stent to keep her airways open, allowing her to breathe.

Recently little Rudy Maxwell-Jones had to undergo a complex 36-hour heart operation as soon as he was born because of a blockage in his heart causing it to swell to a dangerous size.

While scientists in Aberdeen have been researching a breathing exercise that mums-to-be could use to diagnose unborn baby heart and lung problems as early as 16 weeks into pregnancy.

Here at TB HQ we wish little Eleana all the best.

To support ‘Please Don’t Stop’, the final stage of Birmingham Children’s Hospital Heart Appeal, visit www.bch.org.uk.

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