'We thought our baby's operation went well ... we're heartbroken'
THE parents of a four-week-old baby who died from a cardiac arrest said they were left "devastated" by her death.
Ryan Owen and Donna Gaunt's daughter, Amelia-Jane, was born with a rare heart defect.
Only four days old, she had major heart surgery.
But despite battling through the operation, a matter of weeks later she became unwell and needed resuscitating twice before she died.
Mum Donna, 42, said: "I feel heartbroken. The first cuddles with her were incredible. Now she's gone, we just can't believe it."
It was at a 20-week scan at Burton Hospital that the couple were informed there were complications with the pregnancy.
Ryan, 29, who was raised in Chaddesden and now works as a boiler technician in Boston, Lincolnshire, said: "They suspected there was a problem as they couldn't see all of the chambers of her heart, which caused concern.
"The doctors said one of her ventricles had not grown properly, which meant the left side of her heart had not developed."
The couple were transferred to a Birmingham hospital, where an ultrasound scan proved their daughter had hypoplastic left heart syndrome – a rare heart defect.
"We were given three choices – to terminate the pregnancy, let nature take its course, or we could risk the operation, which would be a 75% chance of her surviving," said Ryan.
"We decided we would go ahead with the operation, four days after she was born. We wanted to give her every chance possible."
She was born at 37 weeks on Saturday, November 17, at 5.24pm, weighing 5lbs 13oz.
Four days later, she underwent a six-hour heart operation to transfer blood vessels from one side of her heart to the other.
"As far as the doctors were concerned, it had gone well and as expected," said Ryan.
"Now it was down to her and how she took to the operation. The problem was that it was two steps forward and one step back. She would start making progress, then have a relapse."
Amelia-Jane was about to move from the intensive care unit and go on to the cardiac ward before she died, on Wednesday, December 19, 2012 – aged four weeks and four days old. Donna has three sons – Dean, 23, Ashley, 15, Jack, 6 – and together the couple have Logan, who is 18 months old.
Donna, who was staying in hospital accommodation, got to the ward in time but Ryan was driving from Boston to the hospital when she died.
She said the couple, who now live in Boston, were very grateful for the help from the nursing staff,
She said: "We want to thank the nurses for their help and the support from everybody who has been here for us."
The family are collecting donations for the PICU, in Birmingham and Little Hearts Matter. Ryan said: "We are hoping that any money raised will help to buy more equipment for the intensive care unit."