- At just 12-hours-old Kirsty's son Liam was diagnosed with critical aortic stenosis and given an hour to live. Surgeons battled to save him. In a bid to make Kirsty, 20, and her partner Peter, 24, understand, doctors described the complicated heart surgery as ‘re-plumbing'.
- Little Liam spent a month in hospital recovering before taking a turn for the worse. On Christmas Eve doctors told Kirsty and Peter they had two options – take Liam home for Christmas Day and ‘watch him go', or risk more dangerous ‘re-plumbing'.
“It was very high-risk and they weren't confident he'd survive the op, but we had to try what we could,” says Kirsty.
- After opening Liam up on Boxing Day, a surgeon realised the tot was too weak for the surgery, so he repaired his aortic valve instead to help him keep going until he had toughened up.
- After months relying on tubes to help him breathe and feed and a set-back with bronchitis and RSV, Liam was finally allowed home in February. He spent another six weeks in hospital in May, when the next lot of ‘re-plumbing' was carried out and he received a donor pulmonary valve. Liam is now doing so well his next op has been delayed for a year.
“He'll need regular surgery and re-plumbing as he grows,” says Kirsty, “but to look at Liam now you wouldn't know he has a heart problem or how close we came to loosing him. He's such a strong and boisterous boy.”
“His condition is complicated but it made sense to us when the doctors likened it to re-plumbing, and that's how we describe it to our family and friends.
“When Liam is old enough to understand we'll describe it that way to him so he doesn't get scared – and every time he needs more surgery we'll refer to it as his re-plumbing.
“There's a 50/50 chance he'll need a heart transplant when he's older but we'll deal with that as and when it happens – we're confident our little battler can cope with anything now.”