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Little Leo saves lives; Tragic tot is inspiration for heart charity.

Byline: STEVE BAGNALL

THE parents of brave baby Leo Fish were devastated after he died from an undiagnosed heart condition aged just over 13 weeks.

He appeared to have battled through the worst and was transferred onto a cardiac ward at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool, after a 71-day fight for life on an intensive care unit (ICU) and a stay on a High Dependency Unit (HDU).

But mum and dad, Nicola and Daniel Fish, who live in Mold, were to face heartbreak when their little "Leo Lion" - who they called for his strength and courage - took a turn for the worse and tragically died in July 2017.

Now they are keeping his memory alive through the My Leo Lion Foundation which has so far raised nearly PS1,300 for intensive care equipment at Alder Hey.

They are also taking comfort that he recently helped save the lives of 16 babies in India with similar conditions, appearing as the recent face of the Healing Little Hearts campaign, which raises money to send doctors out to give free life saving surgery.

Nicola, 28, told how they cope and keep Leo's spirit alive with them every day, by talking about their little boy and remembering their dear time together, before he was tragically taken.

She took Leo to the doctors after 15 days at home because he was not feeding well and didn't appear right The doctor sent Nicola to Wrexham paediatric ward with a suspected viral infection, bronchitis with suspected sepsis. But after a chest x-ray was done, they discovered a problem with his heart and he was rushed by ambulance to the specialist cardiac unit at Alder Hey.

Leo was found to have a range of heart problems including a hypoplastic aortic coarctation, atrial septal defect (ASD) and multiple ventricular septal defect (VSD), which would need surgery later in life. Over the course of the next 11 weeks, Leo had two open heart surgeries to repair his aortic coarctation and to temporarily fix a large VSD by putting a band round the pulmonary artery to restrict blood flow until the hole as he grew.

He made it through all the invasive procedures and after spending 71 days in ICU he was transferred to HDU and then onto the cardiac ward.

Ms Fish said: "I can't tell you how happy I was that night when they phoned to say they were moving him to the ward, as I was staying at Ronald McDonald House I ran down to the ward at midnight in my pyjamas to spend his first night with him on the ward.

"After four days on the ward Leo was unsettled and withdrawing from all his medication which was normal but not nice so I stayed with him, changing his nappy in the night and putting his projector on and generally loving spending time with each other."

"But that morning Leo took a turn for the worse and despite every effort he couldn't be saved, this was so unexpected as he seemed to have been showing signs of improvement."

Afterwards Ms Fish, who has a daughter aged four and a son, six month-old Sonny, said: "You carry on day to day and I decided to talk about Leo every day, The more you talk about him, the better it makes you feel. His spirit is still there with us and it encourages me to get his story out there," Mrs Fish said.

"He was the face of the recent Healing Little Hearts campaign to fund raise PS6,000 to send doctors out to India who saved 16 babies with similar conditions through surgery - and I had to design a logo for a poster with his face on - and we do take comfort from that.

"We are also raising money for the My Leo Lion Foundation for equipment bedding and toys for Alder Hey Hospital."

Ms Fish added: "From the day Leo was taken into hospital I told him I would never leave him and I kept my promise until the very end.

"He was and will always be our baby Leo Lion and our real life hero, the fight he showed us was incredible and will stay with me forever.

"I will make sure Leo's fight and bravery will always be known about, as we am proud beyond words.

"Leo was loved and known by everyone at Alder Hey and was so popular."

CAPTION(S):

..A little Indian boy saved by the Healing Little Hearts charity

? Dad Daniel with baby Leo Fish, whose face inspired a campaign to save other youngsters' lives Nicola
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Publication:Chester Chronicle (Chester, England)
Date:Dec 6, 2018
Words:765
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