When you look at the smiling wee face of Lucy Thom you would never know this tough little toddler had been fighting for her life before she was even born.
The three-year-old from Redding was diagnosed with a rare form of congenital heart disease (CHD) known as double inlet left ventricle (DILV), which left her with only one working pumping chamber in her heart.
Lucy was still in the womb when the nightmare diagnosis was made and parents Andy and Lynn were given some stark options by doctors.
Lynn said: “We went for our 20 week scan and were told the left side of her heart had not developed. They gave us the option to terminate the pregnancy at that point – but we had been through five rounds of IVF to get to this stage so, with everything we had been through, that wasn’t even an option for us.
“We were told we could let nature take its course or she could have palliative treatment shortly after she was born.”
The Thoms opted for treatment – however, it meant Lucy would have to undergo open heart surgery at just 18-weeks-old.
Lynn said: “We were able to bring her home for three months before she went for surgery. She went in at 9.20am and came out at 3pm. It was a success – it all worked out great.”
One in every 125 babies in the UK is born with some form of CHD and it is the cause of one in 13 infant deaths. These days 85 per cent of CHD babies survive into adulthood.
“When Lucy turns five she will have to go back for more surgery,” said Lynn. “We hope this lets her grow into adulthood, but at some point she is going to need a heart transplant.”
Lucy’s bravery has inspired people to raise money to fund research and treatment at Glasgow Children’s Hospital and awareness for CHD at the same time.
Family friend Chantelle Hanlon even chucked herself out of an aeroplane to coin in an amazing £1500 for the cause through a sponsored skydive and another pal Craig Moffat is going on a gruelling two-day, 400 mile sponsored cycle from Reading up to Glasgow.
Craig hopes to arrive in time for a fundraising race night in Lodge Zetland in Grangemouth on Saturday, March 16.
Lynn said fundraising from various sources had already secured a vital 4D scanner for the hospital – allowing more detailed views of babies’ hearts.
The Thoms said the hospital has been so supportive and highlighted the role of the play workers and the Teddy Bear Hospital, which uses toys to show youngsters the procedures they will be going through.
And as for Lucy, well she’s just Lucy to her parents and pals.
“She doesn’t let it hold her back at all,” said Lynn. “She gets a bit more tired than other children, but she has done so well, going to her nursery and going swimming. There are a lot of babies who are not as lucky as she is.”
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