Monday 22 July 2019

Baby Alice's condition stabilises

Mallow infant in Germany for major heart surgery

Tadhg Evans

A Mallow couple feared they might lose their six-month-old daughter, Alice, whose condition deteriorated over last weekend but has since stabilised.

Majella Spang and her husband, Jan, both living in Mallow, are currently in Germany after their daughter underwent a pulmonary artery banding (PAB] procedure in Frankfurt last month. 

Alice has dilated cardiomyopathy, meaning she has an enlarged heart and a weak heart muscle. 

Her breathing and circulation deteriorated at four weeks old, and she has since been treated at CUH and Our Lady's Children's Hospital in Crumlin.

It was hoped PAB would avert or delay the need for a heart transplant. The procedure took place on June 14, but she has struggled to recover since then.

In recent days she was moved to Giessen, Germany, for mitral valve repair/replacement surgery and the removal of bands from last month's surgery, with another band put back on the outside of her pulmonary artery.

"Shortly after switching most of her medications back to oral versions, she began vomiting on Friday," Majella explained.

"As a result, she didn't absorb enough of her medications.

"By Saturday afternoon, her heart rate peaked at about 195 [beats per minute], and she was going into cardiogenic shock."

Following the arrival of a cardiologist, an echo showed her heart function and her mitral valve (the main valve between the left chambers of the heart) had deteriorated.

Alice was placed on strong IV medication and additional oxygen, and she had stabilised somewhat by Sunday afternoon. However, the day had shown "how bad the mitral valve function is and how vulnerable it is," Majella said. 

"Her mitral valve is the size of an adult's one. This was a ticking time bomb inside her [and] it just got worse, much faster than we thought," she  said.

Medics in Frankfurt and Dublin decided to send her for her surgery in Giessen to undergo surgery, with Alice making it through and the banding procedures and repair carried out.

On Wednesday, Majella said Alice was stable, but there are still anxious times ahead as her parents wait to see how Alice recovers from an extremely turbulent few days. "We are obviously very shocked by all this and hope that our little heart warrior will pull through," Majella added.