Duff reveals 'longest hours' of son's heart op
FORMER Ireland international football star Damien Duff has opened up about the moment he discovered that his first child had a congenital heart disease.
Speaking in detail about his two-year-old son Woody's condition for the first time, the father of two (pictured right with Woody) said he "broke down" when doctors informed him that that his first-born would need surgery.
"He had what is called a partial AVSD, a small hole in his heart that was never going to repair so they needed to go in after six months and fix it. Otherwise it would have affected his development," he said.
Woody was diagnosed with the condition when, 32 weeks into the pregnancy, his parents decided to have a 3D scan.
"We weren't even supposed to have it, we just decided to go in and get one of those 3D scans just to get a photo of him," he said. "It was a bizarre day, an upsetting day," he added.
Duff said that the doctor told him and his wife Elaine that 1pc of children "would not leave the hospital alive" following the operation.
Woody's four-hour operation took place at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London and was a success. "No doubt the longest four hours of my life," Duff explained.
"We brought him up to the anaesthetic room. He wanted to be in our arms. You more or less have your son in a headlock as you see him drift off.
"That was possibly the hardest thing I'll ever have to do, myself and my wife.
"You think it's nothing, four hours, but it was the longest time in my life because you convince yourself he's not going to come out," Duff said.
Woody Luke Duff, who was named by Elaine after Woody Allen, is now fit and healthy and can follow in his father's footsteps if he wishes – though the football star just wants him to be happy.
"He's fully fit. I'm trying to get him kicking balls already. If he doesn't want to kick a ball at all, I'll forgive him," he said.
Since his son's health scare, Duff has become an ambassador for Heart Children Ireland.
He and Woody were on hand yesterday to celebrate the donation of CoaguChek machines worth €20,000 to the Maurice Neligan Congenital Heart Clinic at the Mater Hospital.
The machines allow heart patients to check the coagulation of their own blood at home, at work or even on holidays instead of having to go into the hospital.
Chairwoman of Heart Children Ireland Suzanne Tracy said that the machines were not funded by the Government but helped patients to live a more normal life.
Meanwhile, former goalie Packie Bonner was yesterday joined by his friends, fellow Irish football legends Niall Quinn and Ray Houghton, to launch his 10th annual golf classic in aid of Spina Bifida Hydrocephalous Ireland (SPHI).
Bonner knew almost nothing about Spina Bifida – until the birth of his niece Una 18 years ago. But the need to raise funding and awareness about the congenital disorder has driven him to do all he can over the last two decades to support sufferers.
The event will take place at the K Club on August 23. Companies, foundations and individuals can sponsor teams to enter the event.
The fee is €400 per four-person team. "