By Charlotte Nisbet
A toddler who was given a death sentence after battling 11 heart defects has defied the odds – and now she never stops smiling.
Sophia Marshall, was just 18 months old when doctors suggested that her devastated parents, Chantelle and Samuel, both 30, take her home to die.
Their little girl had been diagnosed with not one but ELEVEN heart defects after suffering her first cardiac at just two days old.
Thankfully her parents refused to give on Sophia and in a last ditch attempt to save their daughter, she underwent a risky operation to repair her heart last July.
Doctors were not hopeful she’d pull through but just eight months later, she’s smiling and enjoying life back at home.
Chantelle and Samuel are now sharing their story to give other parents hope.
Chantelle, a full time mum, said: “We had no idea there was anything wrong with Sophia when she was first born until we brought her home and she had a cardiac arrest in Samuel’s arms.
“She turned blue and after rushing her to hospital we were devastated when we realised she had a heart defect.
“After undergoing surgery to permanently fix this defect last July, Sophia’s body rejected the repair valve and she deteriorated rapidly.
“Doctors gave us the option of palliative care and said she could go into a hospice to die comfortably.
“At this point, due to her failed corrective surgery, she now had 11 heart defects which amazed doctors as most kids just have one or two.
“After refusing to give up on our only child, Sophia had another operation to try and save her life where is band is placed over her heart, to even the pressures in her heart and control the blood flow.
“And thankfully after waiting four weeks in Birmingham’s Children’s Hospital we were told that it had been a success and Sophia had responded well to surgery.”
Chantelle and Samuel have been warned that Sophia’s operation wasn’t a permanent fix but once it the band – created from her heart tissue – needs replacing she’ll be able to undergo another operation to save her life.
The mum of one added: “Last July was the worst time of our lives, we were so incredibly lucky that Sophia’s pulled through her surgery.
“We’d missed her so much as we’d not heard her talk for five weeks while she recovered.
“She’s normally such a happy little chatterbox and is never not smiling or giggling.
“Sophia hasn’t started walking yet as her development has been slowed down by her heart defects but we’re hopeful she will soon.”
Doctors aren’t sure how Sophia will be affected by her heart defect in later life but are hoping that as new developments are found, she’ll go on to live a normal life.
Chantelle said: “We can only hope she will go onto live a normal life as she grows up.
“In the future she might be eligible for a heart transplant but at the moment we’re just enjoying her being healthy again.
“We’ve decided to share Sophia’s success story as we hope that if any other parents are faced with the same decision as us last July that they can find the strength to also defy doctors.
“Her recovery has been a long process but we’ve now been signed off from the hospital for three months and we couldn’t be happier.”
Ashleigh Doggett, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect, affecting around one in 100 babies born in the UK.
“Thankfully congenital conditions which cause multiple heart defects are very rare, but in order to understand them better and mend tiny hearts we need to fund more life saving research.
“The British Heart Foundation is committed to supporting families affected by congenital heart disease. If you or a loved one is affected by congenital heart disease, you can find more information on our website, or call our Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311.”
SOPHIA’S 11 HEART DEFECTS;
CAVSD (complete atrioventricular Septal Defect)
Right Bundle Branch Block
Left atrial isomerism
Three holes in the heart (which cannot be fixed)
Severe leaky aortic Valve (she is on life long meds for)
Coarctation of the Aorta
Slow left pumping chamber.