Doncaster tot battles back after two lifesaving heart ops

Thomas Annis Potter in hospital after life saving heart surgery.
Thomas Annis Potter in hospital after life saving heart surgery.

When her son was born, new mum Geraldine Annis-Potter could scarcely have believed the drama and heartache that was to come.

When bundle of joy Thomas arrived, there was no hint that the tot was one of thousands of children born in the UK each year suffering from congenital heart disease.

However, at just five-days-old Thomas started not feeding properly so Geraldine and husband Scott took their newborn to Doncaster Royal Infirmary, starting a chain of events that would leave the couple fearing for the worst.

Geraldine recalls: “When he was born, everything was absolutely fine.

“But at about five days old it became apparent he was poorly. He wasn’t taking milk and was very sleepy and cold.

“We took Thomas to Doncaster Royal Informary and he was put in an incubator and on a drip and although he was responding to the treatment, he wasn’t getting any better and the doctors couldn’t understand it.”

Expert medics were called in - and after Thomas was transferred to the specialist Leeds Heart Unit - a faulty heart valve was discovered.

At seven-days-old Thomas underwent a seven hour operation to repair the damage.

However, just two weeks after the first op, it was discovered that his heart was not pumping blood correctly and his body was beginning to shutdown. Surgeons performed lifesaving open heart surgery and the the couple then faced an anxious wait as their son recovered in intensive care before being allowed home.

Geraldine, 37, of Westerdale Road, Scawsby, says: “We went through an absolute nightmare and we didn’t know if he was going to pull through or not.

“It was a horrible time but Thomas came through it.

“He will need further surgery when he is older as he has a leaking valve but at the moment he is just like any other little boy and you wouldn’t know there was anything wrong looking at him.

“He is very active and always on the go.

“Knowing he will need further surgery is like a cloud hanging over you but right now everything is fine.”

Thomas, who will be three later this month, attends Rosedale Primary School and still has regular check-ups to monitor his progress.

As a way of thanking doctorsd for savinf her son’s life, Doncaster Council employee Geraldine, was among those who took part in British Heart Foundation’s Wear Red day.

“We didn’t know about Leeds Heart Unit when we started,” adds Geraldine. “But they have been absolutely magnificent. The support and help they have given us has been amazing.”

The couple have repaid their thanks with a series of fundraising events including a garden party, sponsored bike ride and taking part in the latest Wear Red campaign.

The fundraiser encourages participants to wear red clothing for the day and organisers were hoping that this year’s events would draw in £50,000 from across the country.

Sharon Cheng, CEO of Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, said “At least 10,000 babies and children pass through the unit each year with around 400 of these patients having open heart surgery.

“Wear Red Day aim is to raise awareness for a disease that affects roughly one in every 125 new-born babies and to fundraise for vital equipment, resources and family support.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far. Without fundraisers, Children’s Heart Surgery Fund would not be able to continue its work caring for families and patients treated at the Leeds General Infirmary.”

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