Parents of St Neots toddler who underwent pioneering surgery tell of “traumatic year”
07:15 28 February 2016
When their daughter Maia was born six weeks premature in November 2014, Meera and Shaun Wiggett were concerned, but contented themselves with the fact that she was healthy and in good hands professionally.
Maia, who weighed 3lbs 1oz, was taken to Hinchingbrooke Hospital’s Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). A few days later, however, doctors diagnosed a heart murmur during a routine check.
“They then carried out a more detailed scan and discovered she had holes at the top and bottom of her heart and told us she would need open heart surgery,” explained Meera.
“We were in shock and didn’t really understand what that meant for Maia and we thought ‘is she going to pull through’.”
In the next few weeks Maia failed to gain weight and Meera and Shaun, of Eaton Ford, were told Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) would carry out an interim procedure until Maia was strong enough to cope with open heart surgery.
“We were allowed to take her home for Christmas, which was lovely for our families to see her and for us all to spend time together.”
Then early in the new year the couple received a call from GOSH to say a slot had become available for Maia to have surgery on January 9.
“The interim heart surgery was to help her breathe and give her time to put on weight, but then, as preparation for the operation was beginning, they found Maia was having difficulty breathing.”
Doctors from the hospital’s pioneering trachea team examined Maia and broke the news to Meera and Shaun that the situation was even more serious as Maia had a rare condition called long segment tracheal stenosis (narrowing of the trachea) and surgery for this had to take priority.
“We knew she was in the best possible hands but it was so hard to just sit there and not know what to do for the best. We just felt numb and helpless at times,” said Meera.
“After a failed extrabation [removal] of the ventilation tube; it was at this point that I had a gut instinct that Maia should be left alone to heal and I asked the doctors not to carry out anything else and to do nothing for a week.”
Six weeks after the operation, Maia was well enough to be transferred back to Hinchingbrooke where she stayed for another four weeks until she was strong enough to go home with her family.
She returned to GOSH on June 30 to undergo a seven-hour open heart surgery operation to repair the two holes in her heart. Although it was successful it was touch and go for a while. Maia needed a blood transfusion, suffered a cardiac arrest and over the next few days her liver and kidneys began to fail, but due to the excellent care she received she pulled through and was allowed to go home just two weeks later.
Although she has regular check-ups and scans she is fit and well and developing normally.