New scanner kit to help detect babies’ heart defects

Dr Dzung Nguyen gives Cian, with mum Kelly Fulton, a check-up
Dr Dzung Nguyen gives Cian, with mum Kelly Fulton, a check-up
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BORN 13-and-a-half weeks premature and weighing less than two pounds, the life of tiny Cian Doherty hung in the balance.

He was taken from mum Kelly Fulton and put on a ventilator following his birth, and within three weeks had been diagnosed with chronic lung disease.

It was thanks to a new state-of-the-art heart scanner for newborns that other potentially life-threatening conditions were uncovered by medics.

Cian, now five months old, was the first baby to receive a scan from the echocardiogram machine at St John’s Hospital.

He is now back at home in Livingston and is getting stronger by the day.

Ms Fulton today spoke of her delight that other families in West Lothian are set to benefit from the device, which detected a small hole in Cian’s heart and a problem with the connection between the lung and body artery.

“It really did help Cian, and now they’ve got one of the machines at St John’s it’s going to help a lot of other people too,” she said.

After Ms Fulton noticed leaking waters in late March, she went to St John’s Hospital and was told that she was in fact going into premature labour.

She was transferred to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary where a week later, Cian was born on her birthday – April 4.

“It was a shock – we didn’t know whether he was going to make it,” she said.

It was three weeks before Ms Fulton was able to hold her son, but once Cian reached 12 weeks he was well enough to be transferred to St John’s and two weeks later he went home for the first time.

Doctors are keeping a close eye on the conditions detected by the new heart monitor and Cian still receives oxygen at home. But it is hoped that he will be able to come off oxygen this week and his hearing and sight examinations have shown no problems.

“He’s doing really well,” Ms Fulton added. “When you speak to him he watches you and seems to be doing nicely. Although he’s got a good wee temper.”

Edinburgh Royal Infirmary already has one of the monitors, but the new piece of equipment at St John’s will mean families in West Lothian will no longer have to go to Edinburgh or Glasgow for appointments.

The £36,000 scanner was paid for by the Sick Kids Friends Foundation, while West Lothian Council donated £20,000 towards maintenance.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Dzung Nguyen, who led the fundraising campaign for the new equipment and scanned Cian’s heart, said: “Each year at St John’s up to 20 babies are born with heart problems. It is extremely difficult to detect and diagnose heart complications in newborn babies but the new scanner will enable doctors to make an early diagnosis and ensure that the appropriate care and treatment can start immediately.”

daniel.sanderson@edinburghnews.com