Parents praise medics who ‘saved our baby’s life’

One-year old Lorelai Blenkinsop with mum Ruth and dad Paul
One-year old Lorelai Blenkinsop with mum Ruth and dad Paul

THE parents of a battling baby have thanked specialist medics who saved their daughter’s life after she was born with a rare heart condition.

Bouncing one-year-old Lorelai Blenkinsop had to have two lifesaving heart operations in her first four weeks of life.

Doctors discovered something was wrong just after little Lorelai was born at the Birthing Centre at the University Hospital of Hartlepool when the oxygen levels in her blood were not as high as they should have been.

Tests revealed a problem with a valve in the right side of her heart which pumps blood to the lungs.

It was an anxious time for Lorelai’s parents, mum Ruth Blenkinsop, 27, and husband Paul, 28, who up until then had no idea there was a problem.

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Paul, of the Seaton Lane area of Hartlepool, said: “As far as we knew she was fine, but the day after she was born they did a regular check and noticed her oxygen levels were around 30 per cent when they should be 96 to 98 per cent.”

She was transferred the neo-natal unit at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton when she was one day old where medics discovered the defective valve.

Lorelai was then quickly transferred to the specialist child heart unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital where she spent the next month.

In her first operation she underwent keyhole surgery to try and widen the valve, but it proved unsuccessful.

She then had emergency open heart surgery lasting four-and-a-half hours where a Teflon tube was fitted to do the same job as the faulty valve.

Despite the seriousness of Lorelai’s condition, Ruth and Paul stayed positive, boosted by the quality of care which they hailed as “second to none”.

Ruth, also a full-time mum to Joshua, nine, and Tyler, aged two-and-a-half, kept up an almost constant bedside vigil.

Paul said: “Our main thought was can it be fixed and as soon as they said yes we thought we don’t care how long it takes as long as we get to keep her.

“But if it wasn’t for them I don’t think she would be here today.

“The after care they provide is second-to-none.

“She was a month old before we were able to bring her home. None of us slept for the first couple of nights.”

Curly-haired Lorelai turned one last Friday and it is hoped her heart defect will fix itself as she grows.

If not she may need another operation.

In the meantime she takes daily aspirin to help thin her blood and visits the hospital for regular check-ups.

Paul, a full-time carer for Lorelai, added: “She is doing well and is slowly putting weight on.”

He has vowed to take part in this year’s Great North Run in aid of the Freeman’s heart unit to raise money for better and more life-saving equipment.

Paul added: “There is a lot more people in a lot worse situations than Lorelai such as waiting for transplants.

“I want to give something back to the fund set up by parents that has helped and supported us while we were there.”