Family of heart op tot back hospital appeal

CELEBRATION: Aiden Riches, front, is celebrating his first birthday with big brother Luke and mum Lucy.
CELEBRATION: Aiden Riches, front, is celebrating his first birthday with big brother Luke and mum Lucy.

A BABY who underwent open heart surgery at 15 days old for a life threatening condition is celebrating his first birthday.

Aiden Riches was born in Halifax Royal Infirmary with transposition of the main arteries, meaning oxygenated blood was not being sent round his body.

Now his family is backing the campaign to save the children’s heart unit in Leeds, where he had his life-saving op.

The brave youngster had to undergo open heart surgery at just 15 days old, with his terrified family hanging on through the 10-hour operation praying he got through.

But now Aiden is a healthy, happy 11-month-old — and is set to celebrate his first birthday on Tuesday with mum Lucy, dad Damian and big brother Luke, seven, who live in Teasel Close, Hightown.

Lucy said: “We didn’t know he was poorly until he was born — he was blue. The doctors and nurses were doing everything they could to find out what was wrong with him.

“They found out he had a heart problem and they transferred him to Leeds General Infirmary.

“After four days they let us go home for the weekend but we had to go back on the Monday. He had to stay in hospital and then he had surgery when he was 15 days old.

“I was in my own little bubble. It didn’t seem real at the time. You can’t describe how you feel.

“He had to go through intensive care and he had to go to the high dependency unit. He was about four weeks from being born and having the surgery to coming home.”

Now Aiden’s heart is working the same as a normal heart.

Lucy said: “He just has to have regular check-ups for the rest of his life.”

She said while she and Damian were in hospital, her mum Bev Boyes and Damian’s mum Christine Riches pitched in, looking after Aiden’s big brother Luke.

She said the family would be getting together for Aiden’s birthday party next week.

Luke said: “I am going to buy him a big teddy for his birthday.”

In a bid to give something back, Lucy and Damian took a collection for the LGI’s Children’s Heart Surgery Fund at their wedding at Healds Hall Hotel on April 23.

The children’s heart surgery unit is at risk under government cuts meaning sick children would need to travel to Newcastle for treatment.

Lucy said: “All the hospitals we have been to have all been fantastic. We were fortunate that Leeds is on our doorstep. You can’t say what would have happened if we’d had to travel to Newcastle. It’s not worth thinking about but I feel for all the poor people that have to go through what we did.

“At the wedding we thought we would raise some money for the charity because every little helps. We raised £300 from donation boxes on the bar at the wedding. We just wanted to thank everybody for their help and support.”