RACE TO SAVE BABY WITH HALF A HEART; Little Lewis in air dash for op.
A BABY boy born with half a heart was yesterday flown 400 miles for life-saving surgery.
Lewis Walker-Stewart was flown by helicopter from an Ayrshire hospital to London for the emergency treatment.
The newborn tot has a rare syndrome which means the left side of his heart failed to develop properly in the womb.
Without treatment, most babies with the condition die within the first week of their life.
Yesterday, four-day-old Lewis's parents, Gustine Walker and Simon Stewart, were at his bedside after driving through the night from their home in Mauchline, Ayrshire, to be with him.
His grandparents, Sue and Gordon Walker, said hewas a 'fighter'.
Sue added: 'He's not a frail baby.They told us he would die but he has made it this far and I think he will make it. We can only hope and pray that he does.'
After he was born at Ayrshire Central Hospital in Irvine on Monday, Gustine noticed Lewis was not breathing properly.
Her motherly eye saved his life. He was put in an incubator but grew increasingly unwell.
The family gathered in the intensive care ward to baptise the tiny tot on the day he was born, in case he didn't make it.
Then a specialist was sent from Glasgow to examine him.
He told them Lewis had hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which affects fewer than one in 5000 babies.
Gordon said: 'He gave us hope. He said Lewis would need three operations in the next few years.
'He said he must have the first before he is a week old or he would die.'
Lewis was transferred by ambu-lance to Prestwick Airport and flown by helicopter to Guy's Hospital in London.
Due to limited space, only medics were able to accompany Lewis in the helicopter when it left at just after 2pm on Thursday.
Simon, 35, and Gustine, 22, arrived at around 2am yesterday, exhausted and anxious.
Gustine, a former riding instructor, was in pain after complications and an infection arising from her Caesarean section and went into St Thomas's Hospital for treatment.
On Monday, Lewis will face five hours of open--heart surgery.Atube will be placed in his heart to pump the blood between chambers more effectively.
If successful and he pulls through, Lewis faces a long road to recovery and will need a heart transplant before the age of 10.
Both of Lewis's older brothers Brandon, five, and Aiden, four are completely healthy.
Sue and Gordon , also of Mauchline, are looking after them until their mum and dad return home.
But the stress of the last few days has taken its toll on the family.
Sue said: 'It's been hell a complete nightmare for all of us.
'Neither Gustine nor Simon has really slept since the birth and I know that Simon is devastated. It has hit him very hard.
'But people have been marvellous. Friends and family have been rallying round to help and to pray for him.That's all we can donow.'
Yesterday,Lewis was in intensive care on a ventilator.
Sue said: 'He is remaining stable and is as comfortable as he can be.
'The more weight he puts on and the stronger he becomes, the better his chance of survival.
'After Monday's operation, if he recovers well, he may be able to return to Glasgow in 10 days.
'But nothing is definite and we just have to wait and see.'
THE SYNDROME AND SURGERY
HYPOPLASTIC left heart syndrome makes the heart unable to pump oxygenated blood from the lungs to the body.
But it can be hard to spot, as the newborn child may appear perfectly healthy.
This is because when the baby is in the womb there are extra heart connections which help blood bypass the lungs.Within a few days, these close up and the infant begins to collapse, become grey and breathless and be unable to feed.
Without treatment, most babies will die within the first week of their lives.
There is no cure but a series of three operations, usually carried out during the first two years of the baby's life, can help.
Known as the Norwood Procedure, the aim of this treatment is to re-route the blood through the right side of the heart. If the surgery is successful, then children do not need to spend a great deal of time in hospital.
With the help of medication and regular check-ups, they are normally able to run and play, although they may tire easily.
But as they get older, their hearts may gradually fail and a heart transplant then becomes necessary.
BABY BATTLER: Lewis Walker-Stewart in an incubator at Ayrshire Central Hospital three days after he was born. Top, right, a Sea King helicopter like the one that flew little Lewis to Guy's Hospital in London, right
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||May 8, 2004|
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