THE past few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions for Perth Glory’s Chris Harold and his wife Francesca.
The club won its first A-League Premiers Plate and the Harolds celebrated the birth of their daughter Matilda, however it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Duncraig family.
The Harolds were told at their 20-week scan that their baby had a serious heart condition, transposition of the great arteries, where the large vessels that carry blood from the heart to the lungs and to the body are swapped around.
The condition starves the body of oxygenated blood and potentially results in ‘blue-baby syndrome’.
Mr Harold said the news came as quite a shock and was one of the darkest periods of the couple’s lives.
“It was a tough pregnancy because we knew what was ahead, but at least we could prepare,” he said.
“We are really thankful that the scan picked up the condition – it’s easy to miss when the heart is the size of a peanut.”
While in the womb, Matilda was getting everything she needed via the umbilical cord but once that cord was cut a birth, emergency surgery was necessary to fix her heart.
A medical team at King Edward Memorial Hospital induced Francesca at 39 weeks, and after 12 hours of labour, she had an emergency caesarean.
After an emergency trip to Perth Children’s Hospital, an arterial switch was performed to correct Matilda’s heart and she finally went home when she was three weeks old.
From diagnosis to birth, HeartKids provided support to the family.
“They would check in with us every day or two to see how we were going and provide support in any way possible,” Mr Harold said.
“Even just having someone to chat with who’d been through something similar was sometimes the best help.
“Being introduced to HeartKids also has made me realise how many people there are out there who go through similar or worse situations than us every year and how vital this support is to families.”
HeartKids state manager Cecilia Donovan said the not-for-profit provided an invaluable service to families like the Harolds every day.
“Congenital heart disease is a chronic condition that not only affects babies and children, but also more adults than ever before,” she said.
“It is our role at HeartKids to ensure parents and families are not left to struggle alone while they’re at their most vulnerable.”
Visit https://www.heartkids.org.au/ for more information.