Baby's daily fight to survive heart defects
Every day of Chloe Ball's short life has been a battle for survival.
The 1-year-old baby has only half a heart. She was born with no aorta or left ventricle.
And now she has scars down her chest having lived through four heart surgeries.
She spent her first birthday in Auckland's Starship children's hospital and will soon spend her second there.
She also spent her first Christmas in hospital.
"The doctors gave her a 50-50 chance, so we're incredibly lucky to still have her with us today," her mother, Amelia Turner, said.
When she was 20 weeks' pregnant, Turner, of Linwood, found out her daughter had hypoplastic left-heart syndrome. The disease occurs when parts of the left side of the heart do not develop completely.
"The first specialist I saw told me to terminate the pregnancy because my baby wouldn't live, but I had already bonded," she said.
"It was too late. I didn't want to and I didn't want to give up hope either."
Turner, 25, has three children. Five-year-old Kaiden has a heart murmur but it has not caused any problems.
Ashton, 4, was also born with a heart condition, called Scimitar syndrome, a rare congenital heart defect that went undiagnosed for more than two years.
"He was grumpy, frustrated and tired all the time and people were starting to label him with different attention deficit disorders until the heart condition was picked up," Turner said.
He had open-heart surgery in February and has "finally started being able to enjoy life".
Chloe will again travel to Auckland with her mother next month to have her tonsils and adenoids removed and to have grommets put into her ears.
"At the moment she can't hear so she can't talk," Turner said.
"She has really low oxygen levels too, and at some point in the future she will have to have a kidney removed."
Turner said her young daughter was "incredibly brave" but her health problems had taken their toll on the family.
"I can't work. I've been temping at schools, but I have to turn down so many shifts because Chloe is ill and I'm trying to finish my university degree by correspondence," she said.
"I missed two of Kaiden's birthdays because I was in hospital with Chloe and I feel like he's had to miss out.
"He's so grown up and he helps with the washing and he wonders why he doesn't have a scar on his chest like his brother and sister."
Turner said @Heart, a charity that provides support to families with children with heart conditions, had flown her and Chloe to Auckland after the February 2011 earthquake. "We had fought so hard to protect Chloe and I didn't want something silly to happen. . . But you keep going because there are no other options.
"You keep going because they are your children," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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