| 6.4°C Dublin

Miracle boy Galway boy Aaron defies medical odds after family told he was too frail to survive

'He will not survive the surgery, possibly weeks or days, go home & enjoy him'

Close

Aaron Rock in hospital as a baby was given little chance

Aaron Rock in hospital as a baby was given little chance

Aaron Rock in hospital as a baby was given little chance

He was placed on palliative care and his devastated family were told he was too frail to survive major heart surgery - but look at Aaron Rocke now.

The tractor-mad Galway boy (8) has defied medical odds by not just ­surviving but thriving following ­surgery where the odds were stacked against him. Now his overjoyed family are "giving something back" in a bid to support other families.

Aaron was born with hypo plastic left heart syndrome where the ventricle on the left side doesn't work.

He had two holes in his heart, two valves were fused together, and he had narrowing of the aorta. The multiple heart defects are known as Shone's Complex.

As a baby, he was sent home with his heartbroken parents Mandy and Joe, and placed on a palliative care programme.

Because his issues hadn't manifested until he was five weeks old his lungs had also been badly impacted and following close consultation, doctors gave his parents the terrible news.

"It was myself and Joe and I just said, so what is the intervention?" said Mandy. "And they said there is no intervention for Aaron, he is being discharged for palliative care. He will not survive the surgery, possibly weeks or days, go home and enjoy him.

"Eight years later it's still hard, one sentence can change your life."

Close

Tractor-mad Aaron (8) has defied medical odds

Tractor-mad Aaron (8) has defied medical odds

Tractor-mad Aaron (8) has defied medical odds

 

Aaron's story has delighted and baffled medics and his loved ones as his problems were so numerous and complex that it was felt he would not survive surgery.

No heart issues showed up during pregnancy or in the first five weeks of his life. But when Aaron became unwell in the days after his Christening, he was brought to his family doctor as a precaution.

"I brought him to the GP on the Wednesday morning and I told him that he looked a bit jaundiced," said Mandy. "The GP sent me up to the local hospital, Portiuncula, and they sent Aaron for an x-ray.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

"Two doctors came in and said his heart was showing enlarged and (there was) possibly a problem with a valve or a hole.

Further tests at CHI Crumlin in Dublin revealed the grave extent of Aaron's issues. "It would be easier to tell you what was right with him instead of what was wrong with him," recalls Mandy.

"But Aaron also had severe pulmonary hypertension. The heart issue was from conception. Because it wasn't detected antenatally, what happens is there's a duct that's open from the heart to the lungs when they're in the womb, and that should close when a child is born, but it never closed."

A second round of testing by experts drew the same conclusion. But when, months into palliative support, Aaron was still developing, his doctors consulted medics in one of the world's leading paediatric hospitals, Great Ormond Street in London.

Close

Aaron Rock and mum Mandy

Aaron Rock and mum Mandy

Aaron Rock and mum Mandy

They felt the odds were against survival but they recommended the surgery.

"Basically, he had surgery in the second of September and it was the best Friday the 13th ever for us because we brought him home that day. And he thrived, he absolutely thrived. He was a smiley, happy baby," says Mandy.

"Obviously, not everything is fixed and there will be always be pressures.

He had a second surgery when he was two years and nine months, so those pressures came down.

"We're out to yearly check-ups and he plays hurling at school and soccer every Monday. Himself and Joe are mad into tractors and do tractor runs for charity."

Aaron is also a big fan of RockStar 45 where he makes fun videos for YouTube.

Close

Aaron Rock

Aaron Rock

Aaron Rock

 

Grateful, the family have, in the years since, been determined to give something back. "Last year we sold over €3,000 worth of calendars for Heart Children Ireland," she said.

"Heart Children Ireland, over the past number of years, has donated over €3m to the heart centre in Crumlin. They get no Government funding so there's a lot relying on public fundraisers.

"Aaron, Joe and I would like to acknowledge a big thank you to all the people, family and friends that have supported us every year in buying the calendars.

"We are so lucky. The gift of life is very precious, and we're all reminded of that in the past year and a half."

Heart Children Ireland is Ireland's leading charity for children born with and who acquire congenital heart ­defects.

About half of all babies born with CHD will require heart operations and over 400 open-heart operations are performed ­annually at the Children's Heart Unit in CHI, Crumlin - the national centre for paediatric cardiology.

The charity receives no government funding and depends on the fundraising efforts of members, their families and friends.

HCI runs a nationwide family psychology service and urgently needs funds to continue this vital service.

This service has grown quickly and is now one of their most sought after supports. It is free to members.

For details on this year's calendars, log on to heartchildren.ie.

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Top Videos





Privacy