Lorenzo’s story – A tiny heart’s fight for life
Despite facing a struggle to survive before he was even born, Lorenzo is living proof of the progress we’ve made in treating congenital heart defects.
At their 20 week scan, parents-to-be Nic and Emma were told that only one side of their son’s heart was working properly and, for him to have any chance, he would need major surgery.
This devastating news came as a complete shock. Up to this point, Emma had enjoyed a textbook pregnancy. Now, they had to prepare for an altogether different future: Lorenzo would need an operation within days of being born.
“Dr Andrews did the scan and everything was quiet. I just knew. I just knew that something was wrong.”
Despite everything, Emma and Nic stayed hopeful when he was delivered at 38 weeks. They spent a few precious moments with him, then Lorenzo was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit.
When he was just eight days old, Lorenzo underwent his first major surgery. It lasted eight hours but he came through and to the joy of Nic and Emma, he was allowed home in time for Christmas six weeks later. For this young family, Christmas will always hold that very special memory.
Since then, Lorenzo has had a few more heart surgeries. There have been ups and down at each stage but he is now a happy toddler.
Lorenzo is just one of thousands born every year with a heart defect. In the 60s, a shocking four in five children born with it would not make it to their first birthday. But thanks to pioneering researchers and dedicated surgeons, that statistic has been turned on its head. Four in five children born with congenital defects now survive to adulthood.
But that doesn’t mean congenital heart disease is a ticked box. For many, including Lorenzo, the future remains uncertain. Which is why we really need more funding – to keep researching ways to prevent complications later in life, and ways to save even the most vulnerable tiny hearts.