George Paki

A Christmas Gift

Elaine Paki’s second pregnancy was completely uneventful.  It was 8 years since she’d given birth to her first son William, but everything was on track with the 20 week scan showing everything seemed to be in order.  It was the 23rd December 2015, and she was decorating the Christmas tree when she went into labour.  She and husband Daniel went off to hospital and young George was born the next morning without much fuss; a beautiful Christmas gift for the young Auckland family.

Elaine transferred to Birthcare maternity suites shortly afterwards, and once settled Daniel and her father went off to celebrate over lunch.

“The midwife came in later in the morning to check-in,” Elaine recalls, “and I did mention George wasn’t that interested in feeding. She reassured me it was pretty normal but there was a paediatrician in the corridor and she’d get him to pop in.”  Things were most definitely not what they seemed.  “He took his stethoscope out and listened to George’s heart and stood very still.  He then went back out into the corridor and returned with a team of medical people, telling me George’s heart had a bit of a murmur.” Elaine says they were soon racing by ambulance back to hospital.  “It was horrendous. I went from having a normal pregnancy, an easy labour and a perfect baby to suddenly facing losing my child. It was terrifying.”

George was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot, with Pulmonary Atresia and MAPCAs. He’s had three major heart operations and five cardiac catheter procedures.  “I say procedures, but they are under general anaesthesia, so they are still pretty major,” says Elaine.

While he is in good health now, and doesn’t need any more major surgeries, he will have to have various procedures as he grows. “My cardiologist told us that unfortunately there will never be a LAST surgery for George.”

Elaine says it is always hard for siblings of heart children. Their older boy William is incredibly close to his young brother, but he’s had to miss out and be pushed from pillar to post especially during the early days when George spent a lot of time in hospital. “I missed about two years’ worth of William’s soccer games and it was so hard!”

Heart Kids has been there for the family from day one.  “I still remember Christmas Eve in hospital and there was Nana Marie, telling me all about what to expect, allaying my fears and providing so much comfort in our time of need.  I don’t think I stopped crying for a week.” Since then Heart Kids has continued to be walking alongside Elaine and the family. “From the home visits, to the coffees and food vouchers, and the Murmurs coffee mornings where all of us heart parents can get together and talk about and their kiddies can get together and talk.  Their support has been invaluable.”