Style & ShowbizHealth

Toddler stuns doctors after three open-heart surgeries

HealthBy Esther McCarthy
Finn Delaney
Finn Delaney

Little Finn Delaney has plenty to smile about – he’s on the road to a full recovery after undergoing THREE life-saving open-heart surgeries.

The toddler, who was born with numerous serious heart issues, has stunned doctors by bouncing back from the major operations, the first of which took place when he was just five days old. 

Now Finn is expected to live a full and active life, and mum Aoife has told how the Irish charity that supported her through her darkest days proved to be a godsend. 

“He’s so full of energy – he’s wired!” she smiled. “To look at him now you wouldn’t think there was anything wrong with him. He’s never let his condition get in his way and we’ve always tried to treat him like a typical child.” 

Still, Finn was so seriously ill in the days after he was born that top surgeons in Our Lady’s in Crumlin had to perform life-saving surgery on him when he was just five days old. 

The three year old had been born with hypoplastic right heart syndrome – where the right side of his heart was seriously underdeveloped – and this in turn led to other related issues.

They included tricuspid atresia, which is the lack of development of the tricuspid heart valve, and pulmonary stenosis, which affects the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs. 

He also had two holes in his heart, but unlike other children who need surgery to have them closed, he needed them kept open, keeping the blood flowing and enabling him to survive until surgery. 

His issues were first picked up in a scan when Aoife was six months pregnant with Finn, a sibling to Chloe (10), Sean (8) and four-year-old Sam. 

“After having three healthy babies I never imagined anything was wrong until the scan. Finn was born at 38 weeks and put on a form of medication to support his heart. 

“He was transferred to Crumlin, but because he didn’t respond to the medication it was decided he’d need open heart surgery. That was really difficult because he was just five days old and was only 5lbs 6oz when he was born.” 

To the amazement of medical staff and his loved ones, the tiny baby bounced back from the surgery and was even able to go home to his family just 10 days later. 
It was the first success in a three-phase surgical process that saw Finn return to theatre when he was just five months old. And in recent weeks he successfully came through the third phase. 

“That’s it for now, please God,” said Aoife. “Doctors feel he won’t need any further surgery until he’s 30 and who knows what medical advances they’ll have made by then.” 

She paid tribute to her son, who has, despite undergoing three major surgeries, always taken his condition in his stride. 

“He’s always been an incredibly brave little boy. He never lets the appointment or the hospital stays bother him and he just goes in and gets on with it. 

“What happened with Finn was very dramatic at the time, but we were lucky that he has come through so well, even though he will live with this condition for the rest of his life.”

“The doctors who changed his life have been amazing, just fantastic. They’ve always made the best choices for Finn throughout the past few years and it’s thanks to them that he has gotten so far.”  

Even though family and friends have been a huge support to Aoife and Finn throughout the past few years, she says the help given by Irish charity Heart Children Ireland was a particular source of strength. 

That’s why Finn and a host of other children have lent their faces to this year’s fundraising calendar in aid of the charity. In Finn’s case, he’s featured on the calendar every year since he was born. 

Despite receiving no government funding, the charity has raised over €2.5 million for the cardiac unit in Crumlin in the 25 years since it was founded. As well as creating awareness and providing psychological and other support services, the charity also organises social events where parents can simply meet and talk. 

For Aoife, facing worry and uncertainty with an ill child, it proved to be invaluable. 

“I got lots of support from family and friends, but you’re still alone in the sense that only you know what it’s like to go through this. I felt very much that way at first, until I made contact with them. When you hear the success stories of other families you know you’re not alone.” 

Thanks to the support of Chill Insurance, who sponsor the calendars, every cent raised goes directly to the charity. 

For more information about Heart Children Ireland and the work they do check out www.heartchildren.ie 

You can purchase a 2017 calendar via the website or on https://give.everydayhero.com/ie/hci2017cal