“For what was a truly awful situation, everything seemed to work in our favour and Eckersley House was a huge part of that - we couldn’t be any more grateful”
When my wife Amanda went in for her 20 week scan, we could never have anticipated that we would leave the hospital with the knowledge that in a few months we would have a baby who would be suffering from a serious heart defect.
During the routine scan, doctors discovered that our son, Adam, had a congenital heart condition called transposition of the great arteries (TGA). This meant that the two main blood vessels leaving his heart- the pulmonary artery and the aorta - had swapped places. The result was that Adam’s blood was flowing to the lungs and picking up oxygen, but was then pumped back to the lungs instead of around the body, so no oxygenated blood was flowing around his body.
Doctors discussed with us what would happen after he was born - we would have to have the birth at Leeds General Infirmary and Adam would need open heart surgery almost immediately. When we found out how long Adam would have to stay in a hospital that is over 40 minutes away from where we live in Selby, we were worried about how we would be able to stay with him, especially because we had three other children to think about.
It was actually at the scan that we found out about The Sick Children’s Trust. The nurses told us all about Eckersley House - the ‘Home from Home’ accommodation at the LGI provided by the charity which allows families to stay close to their children while they are in hospital. With everything else we had to worry about over the next few months, it was such a relief not to have to worry about where we would stay.
Adam was born on 14th May 2015 and even though he was blue he was perfect. He was immediately taken to paediatric intensive care where he underwent a balloon septostomy to make sure he was getting enough oxygen around his body to survive while he awaited surgery. It involved creating a hole in his heart in order to allow more oxygen into the blood circulating his body.
Then, at just 12-days-old, our baby boy was taken in for major heart surgery to switch the arteries back to their correct places. We had an agonisingly long 12 hour wait before we could see Adam again but having Eckersley House made that wait slightly more bearable.
Adam’s grandparents, and his brothers and sister, all came down to Leeds on the day of his surgery and we all waited anxiously together in the dining room of Eckersley House. Having the rest of our family there to support us and Adam was so important to Amanda and I. We are a big family and we took up a lot of room but everyone was so understanding and there was no problem with us all waiting there. Without Eckersley, we’d have needed to try and find some space to stay together on the ward or in a waiting area, which would have made our situation much more stressful.
For what was a truly awful situation, everything seemed to work in our favour and Eckersley House was a huge part of that - we couldn’t be any more grateful. Jane McHale the House Manager, and all the staff were brilliant and it really just took all the extra worry out of our situation. We had a comfortable place to sleep and cook, and where our three other children could come and stay. It also allowed us to chat with other families going through similar situations which reminded us that we weren’t alone.
The surgery went really well and Adam is now back home and making really good progress. He still has a few problems with the valve in his heart, but he’s definitely over the worst of it. Adam had a heart scan a couple of days ago but his next one is now not for another four months and the future looks bright for our family.
David Turner, Adam’s Father