St Neots mum backs heart charity’s calls to help fund more research into congenital heart disease

Maia Wiggett

Maia Wiggett - Credit: Archant

A St Neots mum whose daughter was born with a life-threatening heart condition is backing a Christmas campaign calling for more research.

Meera Wiggett, 34, is supporting the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) appeal to raise more than £500,000 to fund pioneering research into congenital heart disease.

Meera’s daughter Maia, who is now aged three, was born six-weeks early and diagnosed with a number of heart defects, including two large holes in the bottom and top of her heart, which prevented sufficient oxygen getting around the body. By the time she had reached her first birthday, Maia had undergone three major surgeries, the first when she was aged just two-months-old.

In her short life, Maia has beaten the odds, battling through complications such as going into organ failure after complications with her second surgery at six-months-old.

“I was in complete shock when I discovered Maia had two large holes in her heart when she was born and I found it almost impossible to understand what it meant for her future,” said Meera.

“All I tried to focus on was getting my baby home for Christmas. It was lovely for our families to see Maia and for us all to spend time together at Christmas, six weeks after being born, but the images of Maia in surgery and with tubes and wires overwhelming her tiny body was hard to shake off.”

Each year, about 4,000 babies are diagnosed with a congenital heart defect in the UK with many more receiving a diagnosis later in life.

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Maia’s case was difficult from the outset and at one point the family feared the worst, explained Meera.

“Maia went in for her first operation in the January, but as they were doing the surgery they found she was having trouble breathing. They told us they couldn’t get the ventilation tube in because her windpipe was so underdeveloped; it was like breathing through a straw. It was another setback.

“Several months later, she was back in surgery and our nightmare only continued. During the procedure, some of the electrical signals in her heart had been disrupted and her organs started to fail. Maia had to go on dialysis and for 48 hours, we didn’t know if she would pull through.” Incredibly, Maia was well enough to go home just two weeks after her surgery and now Meera wants to help other families.

“Her spirit has been phenomenal and she has kept smiling throughout it all. She has been our strength and she has shown a real fighting spirit to get through everything. I now want to do as much as I can to make sure other families don’t have to go through the same heartache, by helping the BHF fund life saving research into congenital heart disease.”

Amanda Bringans, director of fundraising at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Sadly, many tiny hearts like Maia’s will be struggling this Christmas. That’s why we urgently need everyone’s support so that we can find new ways to prevent and support families having to go through this heartache. With your support, we can continue to fund the vital research needed to help keep these tiny hearts beating.”

INFO: visit to make a one-off donation to the BHF this Christmas.