'Mighty Mason-Ray' enjoys very first Christmas at home following major surgery
- Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY
His smile captured the hearts of people from around the county after appearing on the front page of the EDP on Christmas Eve.
Now, the parents of Mason-Ray Smith have shared their festive photographs from the brave tot’s first-ever Christmas.
The baby boy, who turned one this week, underwent two major surgeries in less than three months after being born with six heart defects - having had his first operation at just a day old.
Parents Alana Watling and Andrew Smith, of the Pockthorpe Gate area of Norwich, said it had been “amazing” spending the holidays together.
“We didn’t know if he would be home for Christmas due to the complexity of his conditions,” Miss Watling said. “We were unsure how long he would need to be in hospital."
“It was amazing to be able to watch him open all his presents and play with all his toys but most importantly enjoy his Christmas dinner.”
It was during the 20-week scan the couple were told that Mason-Ray would need surgery by specialists at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, to correct three of his heart defects.
Following his birth at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, he spent a few hours in the neonatal intensive care unit where it was discovered that he had also been born with two stomach conditions - 'double bubble', where the small intestine is not connected to the stomach correctly, and intestinal malrotation, where the intestines become twisted.
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Despite everything, the tot - dubbed “Miracle Mason-Ray" - has made remarkable progress and has since celebrated his first birthday too on January 4.
Obviously he was on Father Christmas’s good list this year, so how exactly did he celebrate?
“He was so excited,” Miss Watling said. “We split Christmas Day between his grandma’s house and his nanny’s.
“He loved his Christmas dinner and he received so many gifts from everybody. His favourite toy was definitely his walker, silicone Pop-It, and an avocado toy.
“He also got chocolate, clothes, pull-along toys, books, stacking toys, bath toys and shape sorting toys. He was truly spoilt but he deserves the world.”
She added that the highlight of the day was being able to watch her son eat his dinner and enjoy it.
“He was on a nasogastric feeding tube (placed through the nose and into the stomach) a lot before his heart surgery in March. He even came home on one a few times so we didn’t know if he’d be able to eat.
“He thoroughly enjoyed it though and it was so good to see.
“He’s always smiling. It’s very rare he gets extremely upset. He’s just so happy living his life and he takes absolutely everything in his stride.
“He has a look on life that he is no different and wants to be involved with everyone and everything.”
So, what does the future hold for Mason-Ray now? Well, one thing is for sure, it is looking bright for the mighty little man.
“We were absolutely petrified watching him struggling and practically living in hospital up until after his heart surgery.
“I still get so worried when he gets a viral infection or a cold and I become quite panicked when he’s ill but the hospital and the doctors are brilliant at reassuring me and ensuring Mason is okay to be at home.
“In fact, he’s brilliant since his surgeries. He’s not struggling with his breathing or his eating now. He eats me out of house and home - I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Thankfully there are no more surgeries as it stands. Just monitoring and watching him progress.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster and times have been really scary but I wouldn’t change anything - he’s our little warrior, our Mighty Mason-Ray.”