Honor Houltham

Honor is one of a kind

Little Honor Houltham is one of a kind.  This gorgeous little 7 month old had what appeared to be a normal start to life but at just 13 days old things took a turn for the worst.

“We were at home,” explains mum Mel, “it was the middle of the day, and she started vomiting.  She was an odd colour and I thought it was unusual but wasn’t too alarmed.  Then at 6pm I was trying to feed her and she didn’t want a bar of it.  She then started gasping for air, trying to cough and went limp in my arms.” Mel and husband Karl jumped in the car and raced her to hospital. 

After numerous tests it was found Honor had a heart condition never usually found in babies.

The 13 day old infant was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, normally only found in older people.  “The doctors just couldn’t believe it, they’d never seen it before in a baby.”  Mel says they’d caught it just in time otherwise the outcome would’ve been very different.  “I often think how different things would be if Honor was asleep when this happened.”

Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood to the rest of your body. It can lead to heart failure, so technically Honor is in heart failure.

“One cardiologist who Honor was being seen by at Starship says it is highly likely that Honor had a heart attack. He also said she was very lucky to be alive. 

Mel and husband Karl spent five long weeks Starship hospital until doctors worked out a medical regime that would keep Honor’s heart working.  They include beta blockers and blood pressure medication. 

“It’s been the longest seven months of our lives.  It’s been tough and terrifying, but we’re finally finding our feet and starting to get out and about.”  Mel says one of the most difficult things was the fact we had no time to prepare.  Many parents discover their babies have heart conditions in utero, but we were completely oblivious until that terrifying day. 

 “We have no idea what the future holds but we are enjoying each day.  Both Karl and I are really open with each other and that helps a lot.  The question that’s always on our minds is whether Honor’s life will be as fulfilled as her little brother Becketts, but for now we take one day at a time.  At the first sign of anything abnormal we head straight to ED.

“Heart Kids have been an incredible support to us, both in the ward at the time it happened, and now we are back home in Dunedin. We have a couple of heart families in the region, and I catch up with a lovely family here in Dunedin as a support, which is great. It’s wonderful to be able to spend time with people who know what you’re going through and being able to share stories.” 

“We are now part of a very special group that seven months ago we never knew existed. We feel very blessed.”