'We expected the worst, but our baby survived'

PUBLISHED: 09:46 18 June 2008 | UPDATED: 21:56 15 June 2010

AFTER waiting years to have children, an East Devon couple were delighted when baby George arrived. But only two days later Nikki, 38, and Daryl Smith, 40, were horrified when George collapsed and turned blue. When rushed to the intensive care unit, they

AFTER waiting years to have children, an East Devon couple were delighted when baby George arrived.But only two days later Nikki, 38, and Daryl Smith, 40, were horrified when George collapsed and turned blue. When rushed to the intensive care unit, they were left fearing the worse.It later emerged that George had a hole on his heart, caused by the condition tetralogy of fallots - meaning, among other things, he was not getting enough oxygen in his blood. Mother Nikki, from Dalwood, said: "We put off having children for our careers. Having our first child was scary enough, but then this happened and it was absolutely terrifying. We didn't know what to expect - and we expected the worst."George was in an incubator for the first couple of days and there was minimal touch. As a mother, you want to hold your baby and take them home. I was upset when I had to leave him."And I think it must be distressing for the babies as they should be with their mothers, bonding. With the bright lights, bleeping of machines, and lots of bustle, I think it's a hectic atmosphere for them."On the recommendation of surgeons, George had heart surgery last November. Nikki believes if it was not for this - and the quick thinking of the neo-natal nurse looking after George - her little boy would not be here today.This Sunday George will celebrate his first birthday. The day will be a particularly special occasion for him and his family - one they previously could have only hoped for. "We're very lucky," said Nikki. "He's doing really well and we have a lot to thank the hospital for."George may need further surgery in future, but the family have come to terms with this. Aside from his condition, they feel George is a normal, boisterous toddler."He's a little monkey," joked Nikki. "At times it was very scary, but now we are used to it. "We wouldn't be without him, no matter what we have been through."Grandmother Marilyn Anderson, 60, of Dalwood, will be holding a fundraising event for the neonatal unit of the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, in gratitude for all staff did to help George.She said: "The trauma is unbelievable when a baby is born with such a condition. Unless someone has been through it, it is difficult to understand. But staff at the hospital were great - so supportive and compassionate."It's thanks to them we still have our precious bundle of joy."On June 21, at Axminster Guildhall, Mrs Anderson will be marking her retirement from Mole Avon Town and County store, where she has worked as a senior shop assistant for 20 years, with a party and auction - with money raised going to the neonatal unit.Tickets for the event can be bought at Mole Avon, in Station Yard, Axminster, and donations for the charity can also be left there.


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