Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) arranged Amelia to have her pre-admission investigation on 05 May 2006 at the hospital to ensure that she is well for her open heart surgery.
As part of the normal pre-surgery procedures, the check-up includes taking a blood sample, ECO scan, ECG and collecting information on saturation, blood pressure, height and weight of Amelia.
A first-time visit to the Intensive Care Unit
On the same day, the cardiac liaison nurse showed the Intensive Care Ward and also the Ladybird Ward. The latter is a normal recovery ward. This is to give an idea to the parents of what is going to happen after surgery and what they can expect.
The nurse also explained the hospital accommodation arrangement for parents while Amelia is in the Intensive Care Ward. Parents are to stay near to the hospital in case of emergency and require their immediate attention. Parents have access to the Intensive Care Ward 24 hours a day. However, visitors are allowed but limited to one at a time with a parent.
Open heart surgery day
Amelia had her first corrective open surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) In Central London in the United Kingdom on 23 May 2006. She was nearly 6 months old.
Her surgery was initially scheduled at 7.30 in the morning. Half an hour before the scheduled surgery time, we were told about an emergency situation has came up for a baby. Therefore, Amelia’s surgery will be postponed to the afternoon at 2 pm.
The surgeons advised parents to stay at the Day Care Ward so that they can reach us any time to confirm the surgery. We were relief hearing that postponement and rollercoaster ride starts when the Cardiac Surgeons confirmed to proceed with Amelia’s surgery in the afternoon.
We were allowed to take Amelia to the anaesthetics room where she was given the gas to make her sleep. Her eyes were still opened when she was unconscious. The cardiac nurse then asked us to wait outside the Intensive Care Ward waiting area.
We were told that the surgery is going to take about 6 hours and the success rate of this kind of surgery is 95% and above. The surgery took approximately 8 hours. Amelia was wheeled out on a bed from the operating theatre straight to Intensive Care Unit. The hospital arranged accommodation for parents to stay very near to the hospital for in case of any emergency situations require them to be there quickly.
We, parents, were allowed to visit Amelia in the Intensive Care Unit 24 hours a day. However, visitors other than parents were allowed to visit one at a time, accompany by a parent.
Open heart surgery recovery progress
Amelia was kept in the hospital for 12 days. Her recovery was monitored closely using machines and screens. There were nurses on duty 24 hours a day and doctors frequently checked on her recovery progress. Amelia experienced some setbacks due to infections, water in the lungs, kidney failure and uncontrollable heartbeats but generally, her recovery progressed very well.
Day 1 to Day 4
Amelia was given morphine as the painkiller. The most powerful painkiller in medical history. The doctor said Amelia would not feel any pain. She was sedated for 4 days. We followed up on her recovery status purely looking at the machines and data screens that collect her heart rates and saturation and listened to the doctors and nurses explanation.
Amelia could not breathe on her own after her open heart surgery and she was relying on the ventilator to breathe for her. She was fed through a feeding tube, in from one of her nostril down to her stomach.
The nurse removed the dressing on Amelia’s chest and she opened her eyes to see her parents. When she first woke up, she was irritable and her hands were trying to pull the wires and tubes connected to her body. The doctor sedated her hands so she cannot move her hands.
The breathing machine was removed and Amelia starts breathing at her own.
Day 7 to Day 8
Amelia can suck her dummy.
Day 9 to Day 11
We allowed to cuddle Amelia and she was sent to LadyBird Ward, a less intensive recovery ward. Amelia was also addicted to morphine. She was very irritable and screaming most of the times. Doctors and nurses were very good at winning her off the drug. It took less than a week. Dosage was reduced gradually each day till zero.
Amelia was discharged from Hospital and she had her first taste of solid food – the bread.
Thank you to Great Ormond Street Hospital
I would like to say big thank you to Great Ormond Street Hospital for everything they have done to keep Amelia’s alive. Especially, the efforts and dedications of the doctors and nurses to help Amelia to recover quickly from her open heart surgery was superb. The nurse on the photo is called Joe, she was one of the nurses looked after Amelia at the Intensive Care Unit. She was a caring and loving person, very calm with lots of patience.
After discharged from Hospital
Amelia was being looked after at home for 6 months then back to full-time daycare nursery from 1 January 2007. She was given ibuprofen and Calpol as the painkiller.
Amelia has no more blue baby symptoms and she can eat solid foods. Unlike before the surgery, she has difficulty to keep food down. She talks and makes new friends at school and also does physical exercises, just like any other kids.
Further post-surgery assessment showed that she has a narrowing valve.