independent

Tuesday 25 September 2018

James (11) has third open heart surgery

Brave Arklow boy is recovering after 'a rough few days'

James Ward Fox
James Ward Fox

Deborah Coleman

A young Arklow boy is recovering in hospital following his third open heart surgery to date.

James Ward Fox (11) from Woodbrook made international headlines as an infant when he underwent pioneering surgery to have part of his arteries replaced with animal arteries.

James was born with a series of heart defects which affect one in a thousand children and underwent his original surgery in Birmingham at just nine months old.

In recent weeks, he became very ill again and was rushed to Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, where he was admitted for a week while awaiting the life-saving surgery.

'He was having difficulty breathing and we were sent to Crumlin. When we got there they kept him in to see if his heart rate would stabilise and they didn't let him come home before the surgery as he wasn't well enough,' said James's concerned mother Nicola.

Last Thursday, James underwent an eight-hour surgery during which doctors found that one half of his heart had stopped working.

'It was as if half of his heart had collapsed,' said Nicola. 'They replaced the valves and rather than the size 20 ones he had, they put in size 25 which means that they should last until he is an adult. He will still need further open heart surgery in the future, as well as regular angiograms and stents, but we hope that he will make it through his teens now without any more,' she said.

Nicola said that she and her husband James and daughter Mary were relived that James's surgery went as planned.

'We are very happy that it went well. We had a rough few days after as James got fluid in his lungs and developed an infection. He was given antibiotics and a pressure mask and then was given blood as the red cell count was low,' she said.

James however, took a turn for the better on Monday and by Tuesday afternoon was transferred from ICU to a ward, where he will remain for the rest of this week.

'It has been a hard few days but we are getting there now thank God,' Nicola said.

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