Wednesday 7 December 2016

Baby boy Zach defies the odds to survive three open-heart surgeries

Elaine McCahill

Published 10/09/2015 | 08:36

Baby Zach and mum Aoife Murphy
Baby Zach and mum Aoife Murphy
Helene Murchance, Zack Murphy, Aoife Murphy and Dr. Orla Franklin

A young Irish woman says it's "like a dream" that her baby boy is now 11 months old, after he defied all the odds to survive three open-heart surgeries.

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Aoife Murphy (26) found out her baby boy was going to be born with a congenital heart defect when she was just 20 weeks' pregnant.

Her cardiologist in London advised her to terminate the pregnancy, but she refused and returned home to give birth.

Zach was born with hypoplastic left heart, dextrocardia and situs inversus - his heart is located on the right side rather than the left, and all of his organs are the wrong way round.

"When I came home I met with Dr Franklin at the Coombe and we put a plan in place for what would happen when he was born," Aoife told the Herald.

"But when Zach was born the MRI showed his heart was worse than was shown on the scans. I was told there would only be a 20pc chance of survival for the first stage of surgery because of how sick his heart was," she added.

After deciding to put Zach into "comfort care" where he could "slip away peacefully", the cardiology team at Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin then came up with a plan to give him palliative care to get his strength up for surgery. He had his first open-heart surgery when he was just four days old and a second at three months.

"That was tough, it was 10 hours long and he was on life support," she said.

"They had to leave his chest open for a week because his heart was so swollen from surgery that they couldn't close the chest."

Thankfully, he pulled through and underwent a third successful surgery in June. All going well Zach won't need any more surgery for two years.

"He really has defied all the odds," Aoife said.

"When you think I'd already made the decision he was going to go into comfort care, and then I was taking my little baby home for everybody to meet him - it was like a dream.

"I have to say that the level of care we received is the best - it was just phenomenal."

Aoife said she wanted the cameras to follow her for a new RTE programme, Crumlin, to raise awareness of the different types of congenital heart defects.

"There are more congenial heart defects than a hole in the heart, or a murmur, and I wanted to raise awareness," she said.

"And Zach is the perfect candidate because he has one of the most complex hearts in the country."

Crumlin airs tonight on RTE One at 10.15pm.

Herald

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