Feature: Ilkeston family’s thanks to docs for saving baby’s life

Charity event at the Castle Pub to raise money for Heart Link on behalf of Alfie-Joe who was treated at Glenfield Hospital, pictured are Mark and Sarah with their team of helpers
Charity event at the Castle Pub to raise money for Heart Link on behalf of Alfie-Joe who was treated at Glenfield Hospital, pictured are Mark and Sarah with their team of helpers

Sarah and Mark Woodroffe, from Kirk Hallam, faced every parents’ worst nightmare following the birth of their baby Alfie-Joe on March 17 this year.

Hours after he had been born at Nottingham City Hospital, Alfie-Joe turned blue.

He was put in an incubator and given oxygen, with tests revealing he had a heart problem.

Tiny Alfie-Joe then had to be kept in hospital for 11 days until he was well enough to undergo heart surgery.

Said Sarah: “When we sat down and the doctor was telling us what would happen, that was breaking point. We had to sign paperwork to say we knew the risks. It was heartbreaking, we were just thinking the worst all the time. On the day of the operation we were going to walk down to theatre with him but the nurse had to take him down because we didn’t know if he was going to come back up. When they phoned us our hearts were in our mouths and we thought something had gone wrong. When they said it had gone perfectly that’s when the tears started.”

Sarah, who has seven other children, said it was only after the birth that they realised there was a problem. She said: “He was fine to start with but had turned blue by the morning. The paediatrician wanted him checking so we were sent to the neonatal unit where he was given oxygen.”

Tests were carried out which found that baby Alfie-Joe had transposition of the great arteries, which means the two main arteries were the wrong way round. This meant an operation would have to be done to disconnect them and then reconnect them again.

“I had been for a scan at Glenfield when I was 26 weeks pregnant but they never saw the problem because they were looking for something else’. Sarah said. “It was a stressful labour and his sats were really low. He was put into an incubator and they were giving him oxygen and did a scan on his heart. The doctor said he thought it was TGA and that he would need a heart operation but he wasn’t a specialist.”

Alfie-Joe was immediately sent by emergency ambulance to the heart unit at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester where he underwent a procedure to prepare for the surgery. They put a keyline up to his heart using a balloon like device to make a hole in his heart so his heart functioned as it was meant to.

He then spent 11 days in hospital in Nottingham in the lead up to his operation, which took place at Glenfield. (He was unable to have the operation straight away due to an infection.)

Said Sarah: “Everything went perfectly. He was in there for 12 hours in total, the operation was eight hours. He did brilliantly - the risks were high, we were told he might not have come out of surgery and could die, or there might be complications afterwards.”

Despite the risks Alfie-Joe amazed everybody and is now a happy 17-week-old baby who has to have check ups every three months. A charity fun day was held at The Castle Pub in Kirk Hallam on Saturday, where Sarah works. The event raised more than £1,800 for Heartlink, the charity which housed Sarah and Mark while Alfie-Joe was going through his operations. Organiser, Lindsay Needham, said it was a ‘brilliant’ day.