Family’s delight at birth of their own little miracle

Amy Hopkins, 17, at home with her new baby Darcy. Amy battled against the odds when she had to have

Amy Hopkins, 17, at home with her new baby Darcy. Amy battled against the odds when she had to have a rare heart op when she was born. Picture: Nick Butcher - Credit: Picture: Nick Butcher

A Norwich dad is savouring fatherhood with a baby who has been described as a 'little miracle.'

Matt Brown, from Lakenham, and Amy Hopkins, from Lowestoft, are the proud parents of Darcy Brown, who was born early at 37 weeks on January 3, weighing 6lb 15oz.

But behind the celebrations of a very special new arrival, there is a miraculous tale of bravery. For when mum Amy was just ten weeks old in 1996 she had to undergo open-heart surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in London. Now, more than 17 years on, and after years of hospital visits, Amy delivered her own child – baby son Darcy. And remarkably he arrived on January 3 – the same date Amy had her life-saving operation all those years ago.

During Amy's pregnancy she had to be closely monitored by doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Mr Brown, 25, who works at Castle Mall in Norwich, and Miss Hopkins were 'very happy' with the arrival of their tiny bundle of joy – from one 'little miracle' to another.

With Darcy being looked after by Amy, with help from her parents Elaine and Steve at the Hopkins' home in Lowestoft, Mrs Hopkins said Amy's birth on October 19, 1995, was the start of a traumatic period. She said: 'In the first few weeks she was diagnosed at the James Paget hospital with a slight heart murmur and was sent to Great Ormond Street for what we thought would be a day – but it turned out we were there for seven weeks until Amy had the open-heart surgery.'

Amy needed surgery to untangle her two twisted main arteries, but during the operation it was also found that she had two holes in her heart. The surgery went well, but she developed bronchiolitis and remained in intensive care for two weeks. Mrs Hopkins said: 'Back then the surgery was relatively new. But she was fine after coming home and is our little miracle.'

After returning to GOSH for a series of tests and check-ups, once Amy turned 16 her care and treatment transferred to the N&N. She was assessed by Dr Leisa Freeman at the N&N to see how her heart was coping during her pregnancy and was told that Darcy would not have the same heart condition as her. Concern for Amy's health meant that Darcy was born early.