Mum pays tribute to baby daughter who died suffering heart disease

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A WEST Lothian mum is calling on everyone to support the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) Christmas Appeal after losing her daughter to congenital heart disease.

Sarah-Jane Malcom, 31, is supporting the BHF’s Christmas campaign after her daughter Halle passed away at just a month old in July 2014.

Halle was born with an undeveloped tricuspid heart valve, a hole in her heart and a hole in the wall separating the two lower chambers of the heart.

After being diagnosed during Sarah-Jane’s 20-week-scan, it was explained that Halle would need three open heart surgeries before reaching five-years-old but hours into her recovery from her first major surgery, Halle had a cardiac arrest and couldn’t be resuscitated.

Around 25 babies every month will be diagnosed with a heart defect in Scotland, which is an estimated 300 a year.

The BHF aims to raise over half a million pounds this Christmas, to help fund pioneering research into congenital heart disease, find new treatments and keep more little hearts beating. Visit christmas.bhf.org.uk to make a difference today.

Mum Sarah-Jane explains: “For the first two weeks after Halle was born, the hospital was very happy with her. But then there were complications - she was getting sicker and wasn’t gaining weight. It was decided that doctors couldn’t wait to operate and she would need surgery as soon as possible. From that moment on, life as we knew it unravelled before our eyes.

“I breathed a sigh of relief when I found out that Halle had survived the operation. But eight hours after she returned to intensive care, she had a cardiac arrest. Every time they stopped CPR there was just a faint beat. They asked for our permission to stop – no parent should have to make that decision. My heart was telling me not to give up, but my head was telling me something else. I just kept asking if there was any chance they could keep going just in case, but as the minutes went by, I knew Halle was gone.

“When we finally got Halle in our arms after she passed away, it was relief to hold her, but she didn’t look like the girl we had handed to doctors hours earlier. We dressed her in clothes several sizes too big for her, as her chest was so swollen and bandaged up and we could see the fresh wound down her chest. This was the first and only time I got to dress Halle.

“My eldest daughter Keryn is now eight and I gave birth to a little boy Noah last summer. Even though Halle could never be replaced, it’s nice to have happiness again, especially at a time like Christmas. Halle is never far from our minds - if someone was to ask Keryn to draw her family, she’d draw a brother and a sister. The only difference is she always puts wings on Halle.”

James Cant, Director of BHF Scotland, said: “Sadly, many tiny hearts will be struggling this Christmas. That’s why we urgently need everyone’s support so that we can find new ways to prevent and support families having to go through this heartache. With your support, we can continue to fund the vital research needed to help keep these tiny hearts beating.”