Two mothers whose children were saved by open heart surgery have inspired the Cottis Playgroup in Hurstpierpoint to hold a special fundraising day to help other children in the same position.
Stephanie Styles’ daughter Millie Grace was saved by the skill of surgeons at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London but at times her life was in the balance in a roller-coaster ride of emotions for the family.
Stephanie said: “Millie was 13-weeks-old when she had her operation for a hole in the heart.
“She was in theatre for four-and-a half-hours - the longest four-and-a-half-hours of my life.
“Nothing prepared us for seeing her covered in tubes in paediatric intensive care, with doctors and nurses trying to stabilise her and make her comfortable.
“They took her off the ventilator the next day but we had a call at 3am saying she had taken a turn for the worse.
“At one point we had her blessed by the hospital chaplain because it was touch and go.”
Millie Grace pulled through thanks to the skill of staff but is having on-going treatment for reflux and breathing problems.
Ethan Choy was diagnosed with a heart murmur purely by chance when he was just nine months old.
The family was on holiday in Hungary where Ethan’s mother, Reka grew up.
Reka took Ethan to meet her childhood GP.
“As she does with all babies in her practice she asked to check Ethan,” said Reka. “She listened to his heart when she picked up a murmur but at that stage, we didn’t know how serious it was.”
A cardiologist recommended open heart surgery for an atrioventricular septal defect, which had caused a hole in the heart, and the operation was performed at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Reka said: “We will be forever grateful to the doctors and nurses who saved our little boy’s life.
“Everybody there is so friendly and helpful.
“Their only priority is the welfare and comfort of their little patients. They are the most wonderful people we have ever met.”
Ethan and Millie Grace are both two-and-a-half-years-old now and meeting new friends at the Cottis Playgroup.
Their parents, who live in Hurstpierpoint, are committed to doing all they can to support the hospitals that enabled their children to have a future.
Everyone at the playgroup held a ‘Wear Red’ day on Monday to raise as much money as possible for Great Ormond Street and the Evelina Children’s Heart Organisation, which provides support to families in these traumatic situations.