For the first few hours, Declan seemed like a normal healthy baby, albeit a very quiet one. A day after his birth, his skin started to turn blue, a sign of low oxygen levels in the blood. After rushing him through to Leeds General Infirmary and performing numerous tests, he was diagnosed with congenital heart disease, his specific conditions being a transposition of the great arteries, pulmonary stenosis and ventricular septal defect. After a minor procedure he was discharged with the intention of performing surgery as he grew older.
At six months old he underwent his first open heart surgery. The procedure was called a BT Shunt and was performed by Mr Watterson, a specialist paediatric heart surgeon at Leeds General Infirmary. The surgery took 9 hours and was a complete success. Declan was given a new lease of life and went on to crawl, walk and talk well before the average baby.Throughout the next six years, Declan developed normally and never let his condition stop him doing what he wanted to do.
At the end of November 2008 during a family holiday in Lanzarote, Declan started to become unwell. Once home, his condition deteriorated rapidly. Declan was admitted to Barnsley District General Hospital and diagnosed with Septicaemia and Septic Arthritis caused by the infection Staphylococcus Aureus. With treatment his condition improved and he was discharged in time to have Christmas at home. The day after Boxing Day, the illness returned and he was re-admitted to Barnsley District General Hospital. Further investigation and tests revealed an infection on his heart lining called Endocarditis. This was caused by the Staphylococcus Aureus bacteria transferring onto his heart. He was immediately transferred to Leeds General Infirmary where he started a 16 week treatment of strong antibiotics to kill off the infection. Declan returned home at the end of March 2009.
After the Endocarditis infection, Declan’s levels of energy and general well being suffered. He was still an active child but the restrictions put on him by his condition had increased. This was especially so during the colder months when he couldn’t go outside for long without getting severe headaches and nausea caused by the low oxygen levels in his blood.
Early January 2010, Declan was called into Leeds for his second open heart surgery. Performed again by Mr Watterson, Declan would undergo the Rastelli Procedure. The success of the operation would have allowed Declan to lead a relatively normal life into early adulthood. During the operation there were minor complications which resulted in the surgeons changing their plan and instead performing a Glen Shunt. The initial procedure had to be aborted due to Declan’s anatomy being unsuitable. The surgery lasted 13 hours. The Glen Shunt was part one of a two part operation so we knew Declan had a further operation to endure.
After an initial healthy period post surgery, within 18 months Declan was again being restricted by the limitations of his heart condition. When this peaked in June 2013, it was decided that he would attend Leeds General Infirmary for further surgery.