A BABY who was diagnosed with a potentially fatal congenital heart defect before she was born is celebrating her first birthday today.
Paige Blake’s mother was 20 weeks pregnant when doctors told her that her baby had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which leaves the left ventricle of the heart severely underdeveloped.
The condition was so serious that her parents, John Blake and Claire McKenzie, were asked if they wanted to terminate the pregnancy.
Paige was born last October and spent the first six months of her life at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Yorkhill in Glasgow. She was just four days old when she underwent open-heart surgery to insert a shunt. She had a second major operation when she was four months old.
All through her early months, Paige remained seriously ill. At one stage, her parents were told she had 48 hours to live.
Mr Blake and Ms McKenzie, from Rosyth in Fife, were finally able to bring Paige home when she was six months old.
Reflecting on the past year, Mr Blake said: “Termination is a personal choice and by no means an easy thing to do. Looking at her, we are so glad we never made that decision.
“To reach a year after what she went through is just tremendous. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
“But for what we went through, we had the best care. Yorkhill was absolutely amazing and Paige’s surgeon looked after us all the way through.
“We’ve been following a few children from Yorkhill who’ve had the same condition who’ve not made it. It makes you realise how lucky you are.”
Mr Blake admitted there were times he did not know if Paige would survive. “When we took her down for her operation in January, we didn’t know if we would see her alive again,” he said.
“To look at her now, you wouldn’t think anything was wrong with her – she’s coming on so well.
“She’s got her own character and is starting to catch up on things she missed out on in hospital – she’s rolling on the floor and starting to crawl.
“She’s just a happy wee soul apart – from when she wants her dinner!”
Paige still has regular cardiology appointments and will need to undergo a third operation when she is older. There is a possibility that she will have to have a heart transplant later in life.
But Mr Blake family remains upbeat. “It got to happen, but we don’t let it play on our minds.
“Some kids don’t even make it this far, or even past their first operation, and we just try to enjoy each day with her.
“There have been a lot of medical breakthroughs – as long as she’s got time, there might be a cure.”
A little over a week before her first birthday, Paige received an early present when her brother, Michael, was born.
“We’ve been blessed again. After what we went through with Paige, we got everything screened – there was a wee scare when we were told there was too much fluid around him, but it turned out he was okay,” Mr Blake said.
“There’s a lot to celebrate. It has been the worst 18 months of our lives, but things are getting better.”