Heartfelt mission in Torre del Mar

Images: Bryony Williams

HAYDN COOK, a 71-year-old resident of Archez near Competa, will be running 5km in Torre del Mar on May 25 for a very special cause. Haydn’s granddaughter Ruby was born a year ago with the cardiac arteries reversed ‘ I remember Bryony, my daughter called when she was about five months pregnant saying there was a problem,’ Hadyn recalled. The decision was made to operate on Ruby in the first two weeks of her life as her heart defect was ‘incompatible with life and that Ruby would not survive without open heart surgery.’

Ruby’s Story

Ruby was diagnosed with the Congenital Heart Defect ‘Transposition of the Great Arteries’ (TGA) at our 20-week scan at our local hospital, the Countess of Chester, on 30th January 2023. Over the months that followed, a plan was put in place for her to receive immediate life-saving treatment after birth followed by open heart surgery within the first two weeks of her life. At one of our first appointments post-diagnosis we were told that TGA was “incompatible with life” and that Ruby would not survive without open heart surgery. We were also told that the birth would be a carefully planned procedure as “time would be of the absolute essence”’, explained Bryony, Ruby’s mum.

She was operated on at Alder Hay Hospital in Liverpool with 27 staff, including 3 neonatal specialists one from Peru, one from Italy, and Ram from India, over six hours. The operation was a complete success. ‘She’s a miracle baby,’ Hadyn added.

‘Ruby was born at Liverpool Women’s Hospital on the 7th of June 2023, to a room full of around 20 medical specialists. She was immediately ventilated, given a hormone drip (prostaglandin) and blue-lighted in an ambulance to Alder Hey. At 15 days old she had successful open heart surgery, which was a full day of surgery (arterial switch operation and atrial septal defect closure) performed by her wonderful surgeon Ram. She recovered quickly, was discharged 8 days later, and is now thriving. In total Ruby spent her first 23 days in hospital before she came home. During that time, we appreciated how fortunate we are to live where we do (in Chester and in the UK); to have access to the NHS, the amazing teams and surgeons at Liverpool Women’s and Alder Hey and free, specialist medical and cardiac care so close to home. Alder Hey is just a 40 minute drive away from where we live,’ Bryony added.

Image: Bryony Williams

Rallying for Healing Little Hearts

During what must have been a very stressful and worrying time the family rallied together. They also have a 2-year-old child. Haydn returned from Spain to help out. After the operation, they felt so fortunate for the care that baby Ruby received Bryony asked how could they help. ‘During Ruby’s stay at Alder Hey we heard all about the incredible work Ram does with Healing Little Hearts and how they save lives. He is a lead surgeon for the charity and uses his annual leave to travel to countries in the developing world in order to perform free life-saving heart surgeries on babies and children who otherwise wouldn’t have access to such treatment, often along with a team of colleagues from Alder Hey and other hospitals.’

Image: Bryony Williams

Ruby’s Runners to the Rescue

Ruby’s family aka ‘Ruby’s Runners’ decided to raise money to support this cause. They are taking part in several running events throughout the UK and Spain to do their part. ‘Once we learnt about the work done by Healing Little Hearts and Ruby’s surgeon Ram, we wanted to try and give something back by raising money to fund a camp, in order to help with providing babies and children in developing countries with access to free life-saving treatment and open heart surgery just like Ruby had. It is unimaginable to think that if Ruby had been born in one of those countries, it is extremely unlikely that she would have survived. We cannot imagine how helpless the parents of these children must feel. We were lucky that we always had hope and that is because we had access to the specialist medical care that Ruby needed.’

Haydn finished by saying ‘Ruby is nearly one year old and started walking last week, she will live a normal life.’ So support Haydn on his run in Torre del Mar and donate to this wonderful charity on totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/rubysgift as Haydn says ‘To save a baby’s life is just fantastic.’

Image: Bryony Williams

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!