Heart warrior Billy
“Billy didn’t show any signs of cardiac problems when he was born. We were getting ready to leave the maternity hospital and go home, the car seat was ready to go, when our world was flipped upside down. Billy had no pulses in his legs and his breathing was too fast. The consultant listened to his heart and heard a murmur. He suspected coarctation of the aorta and did some tests in the NICU before we were transferred to Crumlin Hospital. Within hours, we were sitting with Dr Orla Franklin in the heart centre having an echo. Billy was diagnosed with a severe coarctation of the aorta and a bicuspid aortic valve. Without intervention, Billy wouldn’t have survived.
The following day he was operated on and after a four day stay in ICU and a few days on the heart centre, we were discharged and got to take our little baby home for the first time. We were so lucky Billy had a superb recovery. He’ll be monitored for life by cardiology, to keep an eye on the repair and the abnormal valve.
Billy is 15 months old now. He’s tucked up in bed at the moment while his older siblings are in school. Charlie is eight and Erin is six. Erin didn’t quite understand what was happening when Billy was in hospital, but Charlie was so upset when his baby brother didn’t come home with us. I’ll always remember that drive home from the hospital, along the M50, with an empty car seat in the back. It was horrendous. The day we finally brought Billy home was the most amazing day for all of us. He’s doing so well now. A very happy, easy-going little man. He’s just taken his first few steps. We are so proud of him!
It’s very difficult to single out any particular member of staff that went above and beyond because everyone did. The entire team at Crumlin from the porters to the surgeons were incredible, but one person that has always stuck out in my mind, was Billy’s anaesthesiologist, Dr Terence Montague.
Walking down to theatre carrying my six-day-old baby for heart surgery was so traumatic. I cried and cried, but when I walked into the theatre and I was greeted by Dr Montague’s calmness, warmth and genuine compassion for myself and Billy, I felt a relief. I knew that Billy was going to be taken care of. Dr Montague brought me a chair and sat me down. He was so reassuring and just made me feel that everything would be fine. I walked out of that room, breathing a sigh of relief. I just felt content knowing that he was in such good hands.
Dr Montague was also the one who told myself and my husband that Billy was out of his surgery and safely transferred to ICU, another memory I will never forget. We crossed paths a couple more times when he was doing rounds. Anaesthesiologists are unsung heroes in the hospital. They have such a vital role and without their expertise, surgery would not be possible, not to mention their role in intensive care. He helped saved my little boy’s life. We will always have a special place in our hearts for CMRF Crumlin. What they do is amazing!”
- Shelley and Mike Doyle, Billy's parents.