Luna's Little Heart
When Olivia Swart and her partner Donovan Clark were told the baby girl they were about to have was going to be born with a heart defect, her own heart broke. Doctors said early scans showed the baby’s right ventricle was a little enlarged. Once they processed the information, they thought it didn’t sound that bad. However, as the pregnancy continued, the news was about to get a lot worse.
“When we went in for our 34-week scan to see her heart in more detail our whole world collapsed. The scan showed, not an enlarged heart, but the entire left side of her heart was practically missing.” The couple had three options. “Termination, palliative care or if she was a candidate after birth, a series of surgeries. For us, at such a late stage, there was only one option. We had to give her a fighting chance.”
To look at this beautiful, bubbly two-year-old you would never guess there was anything wrong. Playing with her dolls or riding on the back of her grandfather’s bike, she looks like any other toddler. But this wee girl has been through more than most adults have had to endure in their lifetime.
At just three days old Luna had her first open heart surgery. Her second came at just three weeks old and her third operation was four months later.
“Watching your child go through three major surgeries within their first five months of life isn’t something I would wish upon anybody. It was extremely painful and hard. But we remained as positive as we could be.” The couple mourned the “new baby” life they were not having with their wee girl as she was kept in a bubble until her third surgery was out of the way. “Aside from the homeware nurse twice a week and hospital appointments every other week we didn’t leave the house, her life depended on us keeping her healthy.”
At just over two years old now, little Luna has practically lived like any other baby her age. The family just try to avoid sick people and keep as germ free as possible. “She’s impressed the doctors with how well she has grown and developed,” Olivia says proudly.
Luna is due to have another open-heart surgery, the Fontan, at around three years old and after that there’s a big question mark. “The Fontan is the ‘last stage’. Hopefully it will last her a long time and she won’t need a heart transplant. But we try not to think too far into the future and enjoy one day at a time. We’ll face any hurdles as they arise.
Olivia says Heart Kids has been great support throughout the past two years. “They’ve made us feel like we’re not alone. And the events they put on have allowed us to meet so many other families, which is the best part! I love meeting families who “get it” and understand, and who can actually relate to what you’re saying and going through is huge.”