A little girl who was hospitalised right before her first Christmas with a heart condition is now about to celebrate her tenth festive season.
Honey Brown, now aged 9, was born on October 30, 2014, and her mum Grace said she was ‘already concerned’ as she was a small baby at 5lbs.
Grace, 39, told Metro.co.uk: ‘The hospital did the initial checks after she was born and they were happy with her, so they sent her off home.
‘And then quite quickly, probably within about four weeks I started to notice that she was a really sleepy baby. I was having to wake her for her bottles through the night, and she wasn’t gaining any weight.
‘Eventually it got to December 21 and I still wasn’t happy. She wasn’t drinking from her bottle and she was falling asleep while she was drinking.
‘I rang again and eventually a GP rang back and asked me to reiterate what the symptoms were. He was really concerned and asked me to go down to the surgery that night.’
The doctor examined Honey and asked if her fingernails were always white, and found her feet to be a little blue, then listened to her heart.
He immediately advised Grace and her husband, Richard, to take Honey to hospital.
‘We got to the hospital and there was a whole room of doctors,’ Grace added.
‘They said they’ve never heard such a loud murmur in a child.
‘We were getting all the student doctors coming in to have a listen to how loud the murmur was.
‘They then informed Grace they believed Honey had holes in the walls between the chambers of her heart, and ‘that’s when the world came crashing down’.
Grace, also mum to sisters Violet, Lily and Jasmine, added: ‘I’d never anticipated this. I hadn’t even known about heart conditions or congenital heart conditions.
‘As a parent, already with a four- and six-year-old at the time, my emotions were everywhere.
‘I think I was almost in a state of disbelief and that my brain was trying to protect itself. I remember saying, can I not just take her home for Christmas?’
After taking her to a children’s heart unit in Bristol on Christmas Eve, and an echocardiogram found her heart was ‘full of holes’.
They told the family they would need to operate on Honey as it ‘wouldn’t fix itself’, but needed to wait for her to put on some weight before they could carry out the surgery.
Grace, who did manage to get her daughter back home to Barnstaple, Devon, for Christmas Day added: ‘From Christmas Eve that night, I became an expert for my child, and I learned absolutely everything I could about congenital heart defects.
‘It sounds a bit dramatic, but it was the night that our lives changed forever and ever since then our life has been different.
‘But still for Christmas, we still send the GP who got us down to the hospital, on December 21, we send him a card because I need him to know that he’s our hero and that without him she wouldn’t be here.
‘So Christmas is a bitter sweet time really, we just try and enjoy it as much as we can. It was when our lives changed forever. That’s the bitter part, but the sweet part is that Honey survived and is with us now.’