Having a hole in the heart is enough to deal with, but when you’ve got two and you’re born several weeks prematurely then the outlook can be bleak.
This is what one-year-old Aiden Neilson and his family have bravely faced, but he’s defying the odds to make an amazing recovery from his hard start in life.
Aiden weighed just two pounds when he was brought into the world 14 weeks early on September 8 last year.
Being born so early in a pregnancy has its own set of problems, but add Aiden’s double heart condition to the mix and you can imagine the stress it placed on his fragile little body, as well as the family.
Mum and dad Sandra (33) and Colin (41), from Limerigg, spent weeks on a bedside vigil while he was in a critical condition in Forth Valley Royal Hospital’s neonatal unit.
He didn’t come out until three days before Christmas.
But a year on the family has reflected on what has been, and still is at times, a trying experience. However, hope for Aiden’s future is now blooming as his health continues to flourish.
Sandra, a nursery nurse, said: “Aiden was on oxygen for months but he doesn’t need it now although we’ve still got a supply at home. Even his big brother Aaron, who’s 11, has learned first aid just in case.
“He sleeps with a monitor on his tummy too so we will know if anything happens during night. To be honest I couldn’t sleep if he didn’t have that. I can thankfully get a sleep at night now.
“He had surgery for one of the holes in his heart in April and will need surgery when he is about three or four for the other one, and we have to watch him closely because he is prone to colds.
“But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. He’s been coming on leaps and bounds.
“He’s got a healthy wee temper on him too, but we’re just so happy he is growing up quite normally now. His smile makes your day.”
The family are grateful to staff at the Larbert hospital’s neonatal unit, who they say are “angels”, as well as the local community for its support.
Family friend Annie McGlynn (24), a carer at Avonbridge Nursing Home, even did a half marathon from Limerigg to the hospital and raised £870. The cash will go directly to the unit through the Tiny Tabitha Fund charity.
Annie said: “The whole community was devastated for Aiden and the family. I just wanted to do something for the hospital that took such good of Aiden and my friends when they needed it.”
Staff at the Larbert hospital go to work each day hoping they can make a difference to people’s lives. While praise isn’t needed, it’s often given.
Lynette MacKenzie, the neonatal unit ward manager said: “We are delighted that Aiden is doing well and we are hugely grateful for this generous donation from Annie, Sandra and Colin.
“The Tiny Tabitha Fund works hard to raise money for local neonatal units and Annie’s run simply highlights how much people appreciate the care and support our neonatal unit gives to families. We are extremely proud of our staff and we’re happy to have their hard work recognised.”