Baby with one percent chance of survival celebrates first birthday after receiving heart transplant
A baby who was given a ONE percent chance of survival has celebrated his first birthday after receiving a long-awaited heart transplant.
Little Benjamin Rayner was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which left one side of his heart too small to pump blood around his body.
Benjamin’s mother, Ashley Hardy, 32, was left planning the speech she’d make at her son’s funeral and making plans with the funeral parlour after she was told her son would have one percent chance of survival.
Just three days after he was born, Benjamin was put on the waiting list for a new heart.
But finally, after almost a year of waiting, the one-year-old was given his heart and celebrated his first birthday this week, Wednesday 1 August.
Ashley, from Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, said: “At 27 weeks they knew something was wrong with his heart, I was offered an abortion but I couldn’t take it. Even if it meant he died shortly after birth.
“I was planning what I’d say at his funeral and ringing funeral parlours to make arrangements.
“But I knew that I had to keep positive and after enough research and hope, the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle said they’d take him on and do what they could.
“When he was born he was immediately struggling and was put on the transplantwaiting list at just three-days-old and was given a one percent chance of survival.
“Then nine months later he was given the gift of life, and has defied the odds to celebrate his first birthday!”
Before Benjamin was born, Ashley was told by two hospitals that there was nothing that could be done to save her and was encouraged to terminate her pregnancy.
However, determined to not give up hope, Ashley persevered and eventually found a hospital willing to help her son through his journey.
Just one month after, on August 1st, 2017, Ashley gave birth to her 7lbs 9oz little boy at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.
She said: “I was only allowed to hold him for a quick second before he was taken from me and put into an incubator and whisked away.
“I didn’t get to see him until the next day and when I first saw Benjamin he seemed to be doing a lot better and I convinced myself that the doctor’s had just got confused.
“But they told me that he wasn’t doing very well – he had been dying since we were told he’d had heart defects.
“As days went by his face turned from red to purple and, although he was still beautiful, he started to look very unwell.
“I decided to get him Christened, just in case he did pass away, and suddenly the funeral plans became a lot more real again.”
As the months went on, Ashley waited tirelessly for Benjamin’s heart until nine months later, she received the call that finally filled her life with hope.
She said: “He had multiple surgeries while he waited – which included a band being fitted around his ventricles, a heart reconstruction, operations to fix his damaged diaphragm and an aneurysm removed – but he still needed his new heart.
“I picked up the phone and was told there was a ‘possible heart’ waiting for Benjamin and it caused a whirlwind of emotions.
“I felt numb and was in complete disbelief, but I was excited all the same. But then I looked at Benjamin and I thought about the family that had lost someone and was heartbroken for them.
“Then at 3 am the following morning, once the appropriate checks had been done, Benjamin went into surgery to receive his heart – which was a perfect match.”
Now, Benjamin is beginning to lead a normal life at home with his mum, dad, Davy, 37, and sisters, Sharlene, 9 and Jessica, 6, and has just celebrated his first birthday.
Ashley said: “Benjamin is still having his ups and downs and remains on a feeding tube, but he’s been doing amazingly.
“It’s great that he has defied the odds and has reached his first birthday, despite the fact he spent it in the hospital battling gastroenteritis.
“But even so, his dad stayed by his bedside whilst myself and his two sisters celebrated his warrior year with a fundraising event for the Children’s Heart Unit Foundation.
“Every day I remind myself how grateful we are, and I smother Benjamin with love at any given opportunity.
“I can’t thank the family who gave us the heart enough – I love them immensely and I don’t even know them.
“They’re close to my heart and even closer to my son’s and I hope they know that I’m looking after their baby now.”
A spokesperson for Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We’re delighted to hear that Benjamin is doing so well and we wish him and his family all the best for the future.”