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Strood mum's shocking experience as both sons undergo heart surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital


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A mother-of-two has spoken of her traumatic experience after nearly losing her six-month-old son due to an undiagnosed heart defect.

Shona Boyle, 30, from Cromer Road, Strood, then had to relive the nightmare with her second son a few years later.

From left: Callum and Jacob are both doing well. Picture: Shona Boyle
From left: Callum and Jacob are both doing well. Picture: Shona Boyle

Eldest brother Callum had a hole in his heart (VSD) at birth which was not picked up in any scans meaning Shona and her husband Terry, 53, had no idea of his condition.

It was not until the toddler started refusing his milk that Shona thought something might be wrong.

She said: "I was having to feed him every hour and he was being sick. We were going back and forth to our GP saying something is wrong he is not taking his milk."

The four-year-old was born at a healthy 9.5lb but he quickly started losing weight dropping him down into the 21st centile on the baby weight chart.

He then started to have bluing on his upper lip and was struggling to breathe, with the family sent to Evelina children's hospital in London.

Callum underwent heart surgery at six months old. Picture: Shona Boyle
Callum underwent heart surgery at six months old. Picture: Shona Boyle
Dad Terry with Callum as a baby. Picture: Shona Boyle
Dad Terry with Callum as a baby. Picture: Shona Boyle

It was then they learnt their son had heart failure and quite a large hole in his heart.

Shona said: "It was lucky we brought him in as in a week he would have passed.

"That was a shock. I thought I am going to lose my little boy."

Callum was under the care of Evelina for a month as they worked to get his weight back up for surgery by feeding him via tubes through his nose which was successful and left him in recovery for one or two weeks.

The family's anguish continued when their youngest son, Jacob, underwent similar surgery a couple of years later to fix a hole in his heart which was caused by Tetrology of Fallot (TOF).

Jacob underwent heart surgery at six months old. Picture: Shona Boyle
Jacob underwent heart surgery at six months old. Picture: Shona Boyle
Jacob suffers from four different defects. Picture: Shona Boyle
Jacob suffers from four different defects. Picture: Shona Boyle

TOF is a birth defect that affects the flow of blood through the heart. It is made up of four defects including VSD, pulmonary stenosis, ventricular hypertrophy and an enlarged aortic valve.

The condition can cause multiple problems that means little Jacob may need more surgeries as he grows up.

Shona said her experience with Jacob was more complicated but was made easier by her existing knowledge of the condition.

Like his older brother, Jacob, now two, had surgery at six months old to fix the hole in his heart at Great Ormond Street Hospital and was only in for five days including recovery.

The self-employed mother recalled how worried she was when he was born and that she would go in and out of his room every night to make sure he was well and breathing.

She even questioned whether it was better to know and added: "I was so relieved when he got his surgery and thought I can relax. It was history repeating itself. In my mind I thought anything could go wrong."

Shona and Jacob. Picture: Shona Boyle
Shona and Jacob. Picture: Shona Boyle
From left: Jacob and Callum have both had surgery for a hole in the heart. Picture: Shona Boyle
From left: Jacob and Callum have both had surgery for a hole in the heart. Picture: Shona Boyle

The family are hoping that the other defects rectify themselves as he gets older as there is now less pressure on his heart after the surgery.

Shona continued: "You would not notice there was anything wrong with my children. My boys are so hyper."

Both St Andrews preschool, Rochester, pupils are physically well now and have check ups with a specialist at Medway hospital.

Shona's Halloween display to raise money for GOSH. Picture: Shona Boyle
Shona's Halloween display to raise money for GOSH. Picture: Shona Boyle

The mother is now raising money for Great Ormond Street by decorating her house for Halloween.

She said: "My gratitude is not enough."

The One Stop Shop across the road has a charity pot and Shona has a just giving page.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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