Nadine has three sons, Riley (10), Harvey (7) and little Jett who is 11 months old. It is Jett who was born with a heart condition that went undetected until after he was born.At 37 weeks pregnant, Jett was showing signs of distress so Nadine was induced. At first everything appeared fine – newborn checks didn’t raise any concerns and, despite having to wake him to feed, Jett seemed perfectly healthy.
Back at home, Jett started to be sick which was initially diagnosed as reflux. However he got progressively worse over the next week until, one night, he started passing blood. Although reassured by the medical team at her local hospital that it was probably just a milk intolerance, Nadine was unconvinced. It was at this point that Jett’s heart murmur was first detected.
Continuing to be sick throughout the night, Jett had an appointment for an ECG the following morning. He was now very ill. The medical team, noticing his weakening state, ran more tests. Jett was diagnosed with a blocked bowel. His initial prognosis was very bad, and Nadine and her family were told to prepare for the worst.
But Jett continued to fight, every day getting that little bit stronger until he was ready for surgery to fix his bowel. Nadine said that letting her baby go to surgery was the hardest part “At lunchtime they came to take him and I couldn’t let him go. It took one of the nurses to convince me that he could either have the operation, or I would have to go home without him.
After the operation, I was able to give him a cuddle but I was terrified of pulling out any his tubes – I’m not sure how I would have coped if anything had happened whilst he was in my arms.”
That was 10 months ago. Jett’s heart has yet to be operated on – he has two ventricular septal defects (holes in the heart) and he is being monitored closely but so far, so good. He’s a very happy and chatty little boy, with a full future ahead of him.
Nadine’s first few weeks with her third son were terrifying. Had Jett’s heart condition been picked up during pregnancy or in newborn tests, he would have had a full check up and his bowel condition may too have been picked up. Early detection of heart problems makes a huge difference – not just to the baby and their family, but to the NHS services who provide emergency care to a very sick baby.