Families unite to get behind charity’s campaign

Two West Country families are backing a Christmas campaign for cash to pay for research into the conditions that nearly claimed their children.

Holly Lloyd, 33, from Bristol, is supporting the British Heart Foundation’s Christmas campaign because her little girl Ivy Lloyd, who was born this August, was diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries (TGA).

When Holly and her husband Mark, 37, went to the 20-week scan, they found out two things – their baby was a girl and she had a life-threatening heart condition that meant the major arteries leaving the heart were the wrong way round.

At only nine days old, Ivy underwent the arterial switch procedure, a ten-hour surgery to swap the major arteries back to their normal position. This operation was pioneered by the BHF- funded Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub.

Holly said: “Before I had a chance to kiss our baby girl goodbye, she was rushed away and put on a ventilator to help her breathe. Less than ten days later, we endured a five-hour wait while she was being operated on to fix her tiny heart, unsure of what the outcome would be.

“Ivy is now back home and I am loving every moment of being a new mother.

“Without the research of the BHF my daughter would not be here and we would not be celebrating Christmas as a family.”

Gabriela is full of energy, loves dancing, singing and sports

Cherilyn Hedges, 40, from Exeter, is also supporting the campaign. Her daughter Gabriela Atkins, 10, was diagnosed with a number of congenital heart defects.

Gabriela was also diagnosed with Transposition of the Great Arteries, a Double Outlet Right Ventricle, where the pulmonary artery and the aorta both connect to the right ventricle, an undeveloped aorta and a hole in her heart.

Gabriela has had to undergo several major heart surgeries since she was five weeks old and faces more in the future. She even spent her first Christmas in hospital.

Cherilyn said: “It was really sad as the first Christmas with your new-born baby is something you will never get back.

“That is why Christmas is such a big thing in our house now.

“I’m so proud of Gabriela – she is full of energy and loves dancing, singing and sports, even if she can’t keep up with a lot of the other children.

“Without the research of the BHF my daughter would not be here.”

Visit christmas.bhf.org.uk to find out more about the Christmas campaign.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.