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Norwich couple's joy at baby's heart transplant success

PUBLISHED: 17:54 07 June 2011

Happy 10-month-old Oli Wood who has recovered well after a heart transplant at the tender age of 7 months, with his mum and dad, Ruth and Edward. Picture: Denise Bradley

Happy 10-month-old Oli Wood who has recovered well after a heart transplant at the tender age of 7 months, with his mum and dad, Ruth and Edward. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant copyright 2011

A Norwich couple have spoken of their joy now their baby son is back home after undergoing a heart transplant at just six months old.

Little Oliver Wood was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, just a week after he was born last July when doctors discovered he had two holes in his heart.

Attempts to repair the holes and a malfunctioning valve in his heart at first seemed promising until his parents Ruth and Edward Wood, who live in Eaton Rise, saw their first-born’s health take a turn for the worse.

Three weeks after his operation, his tiny body started to shut down and he was rushed for the third time to the London children’s hospital.

Young Oliver was on “death’s door” and had to be put on an artificial heart.

His parents, who are both teachers, were told that his heart had not developed properly during pregnancy and that the only option was for the youngster to undergo a heart transplant.

Mrs Wood, 31, said: “We were very, very scared. There were three or four times when we thought he was not going to make it.”

But a heart came up within 10 days and Oliver was able to undergo the operation in February this year. He had spent a total of seven months in hospital before he was able to return home at Easter and has undergone four operations.

Now, the tot is approaching his first birthday and is recovering well.

His parents have planned a fundraising run from Norwich to London to be held next month to raise funds for the charities which helped support them.

Mrs Wood, a languages teacher at Hartismere School in Eye, said: “He was on death’s door quite a lot. It was an incredibly harrowing, scary time. He is one tough little baby. He has amazed doctors and nurses – they are staggered by his progress after the heart transplant. We are incredibly grateful and very lucky.”

Oliver, who was one week overdue when he was born and weighed 7lb 1oz, is just one of a handful of babies to undergo a heart transplant in a year and often it can take months for a heart to be found.

No defects with his heart had been picked up during pregnancy. After he was born, because his heart was not working properly, all of his energy was going into keeping him alive and he was struggling to gain weight.

He now weighs just over 15lbs and has to go back to Great Ormond Street Hospital every other week.

“When we were able to take him home, it was almost unreal. We had been in hospital for so long, you didn’t think the day was ever going come,” said Mrs Wood, whose husband is a teacher at Taverham Hall School.

“The hardest thing is that there are not very many hearts around. If your baby dies you may not want to donate their heart because it is maybe too harrowing. The reason we got a heart so quickly was because they prioritise the most ill babies and he was on the super-urgent list.”

Mr and Mrs Wood, who live in Welsford Road, off Eaton Road, have organised Run for Oli which will be held on July 17.

Teams and individuals are invited to run, walk or cycle from Norwich to London to raise money for The Sick Children’s Trust, Children’s Acute Transport Service (CATS) and Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Oliver will also be christened at Longham Church, near Dereham, this Saturday where a collection will be made for Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Mrs Wood said: “If it wasn’t for Great Ormond Street Hospital and CATS, Oliver wouldn’t be alive and if it wasn’t for The Sick Children’s Trust, it would’ve been difficult and expensive to have stayed in London all that time. We are so grateful.”

To find out more about the charity run, to sign up or donate, go to www.charitygiving.co.uk/oliwood

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