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Happy Harry Brave tot can enjoy first Christmas with no hospital visits after fighting rare heart condition


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Harry and his parents Leanne and Keith are looking forward to Christmas

Harry and his parents Leanne and Keith are looking forward to Christmas

Harry and his parents Leanne and Keith are looking forward to Christmas

Little Harry McCormack is looking forward to a Christmas like no other - as he's set to spend his first festive season without medical treatment.

The four-year-old - who was born with a rare condition called hypoplastic right-heart syndrome - faced life-saving surgery when he was just days old, as doctors became very concerned for his future.

He spent his first Christmas in hospital. But this year marks the first period where he has no tests or appointments due for the holidays. Now, his grateful family is fundraising to support other kids in the heart ward at CHI Crumlin, as a 'thank you' to the medical staff who transformed their lives.

"Harry was in and out every week for bloods last year. This is his first year having a total break," said mum Leanne. "Harry's been through the mill and to bring him home we've had to learn how to give him injections and insert tubes, but he's eating now. Everyone who works in Crumlin has played a part. A big thanks to every single one of them. We're after getting a six-month stretch now which is the longest we've ever had."

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Harry got to meet Santa Claus

Harry got to meet Santa Claus

Harry got to meet Santa Claus

Doctors first detected fluid on the back of Harry's neck when his parents attended for their 12-week scan.

"We walked out of the hospital that day going: 'what's going to happen now?'" said Keith. "At 19 weeks we got a diagnosis of Harry's condition."

Weeks before his arrival, the couple were shown around CHI Crumlin's heart ward, which gave them a daunting sense of what was to come. But they also got to see first-hand the precious work being carried out by medical staff.

Operation

Hypoplastic right-heart syndrome occurs when the right-sided heart structures are underdeveloped or not fully formed.

"He was born with half a heart," is how mum Leanne puts it.

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Harry had to have heart surgery at just three days old

Harry had to have heart surgery at just three days old

Harry had to have heart surgery at just three days old

"He has two chambers instead of four. When he was born he was supposed to have an operation. But Harry had to have open heart surgery when he was three-days old and that wasn't expected at all or planned at all. It was because his oxygen levels were going down.

"He wouldn't have survived," added Keith. "He was on life support. There was no cure for it and we were living in uncertain times. He had to spend his first Christmas in Crumlin. Celebrities including Robbie Keane and Ruby Walsh came in, two sporting heroes of mine. But they were strange times to meet them."

Harry and his family have been through many tough times, and the little boy from Ballyfermot in west Dublin has now undergone four major surgeries.

But his loved ones are relieved that, while he needs further surgery, he's currently doing very well and was even able to begin pre-school in September.

"He's doing great, he's in pre-school now, St Michael's Ballyfermot," said Keith. "They know what's been going on with him and they just give him so much care, they've been brilliant.

"They say with a heart child, you just don't know what's going to happen. At the start, we were in and out of his room checking on him.

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Brave Harry has been cared for by the staff at Crumlin

Brave Harry has been cared for by the staff at Crumlin

Brave Harry has been cared for by the staff at Crumlin

"But we just adjusted to it. After his last surgery, he walked out of the ward towards Leanne 24 hours later. If that's not a miracle, nothing is. We call him our little Ballyfermot warrior."

Now the family and their community are giving something back, by raising funds to benefit the children, families and staff at Crumlin.

Last week, local football club Colepark United organised a fundraising run in Harry's name which raised over €1,000 to get toys for children to play with in the hospital.

They're also backing another fundraising campaign through Crumlin United, Ellie's Christmas Toy Appeal, which this year aims to fundraise for two electric beds for the ward.

The family say they also like to raise awareness of the condition and hope that Harry's progress might offer hope to other families.

"We want them to read the newspaper and see how far he's come, we want to give them hope. At the time, all you can think about is the operation, but you can't prepare for the aftermath.

"But he's doing well. He is a real character. He's like an old man in a little body.

"He's the boss of the house. He has four brothers and one sister - Jack, Bobby, Kian, George, Pippa Belle. When they went to see him in the hospital they helped him get along in leaps and bounds."

"He's always going around saying: 'Do you want to see my war wounds?'" smiled Keith, as he thanked the staff in Crumlin.

"One of the cleaners used to come in and sing and dance to give Harry a lift. From the doctors to the dinner ladies and the cleaners, everyone in the heart centre is just amazing."

  • For further details on the Christmas appeal go to gofundme.com/f/ellies-christmas-toy-appeal.

Sunday World


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