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Patient stories

Here at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children we treat lots of children every year who are very poorly with hearts that don't work as well as they should. Luckily we have some of the best doctors and nurses who are experts at treating poorly children and helping their hearts work better so they can live happier and healthier lives.

There are lots of different types of problems children can have with their hearts and sometimes children come here when they are babies or toddlers, sometimes when they are school age and sometimes as teenagers.

We know children sometimes feel a bit scared when they're coming in for an operation but there is no need to be. Every day we help lots of children feel much better and we help and support their families throughout this time as well.

Please click here and read page 20 of our Voices magazine to read about the transportation of criticall ill children. 

Here are some of the stories of children we have helped over the last few years:

Quinton Barham's story

Football mad teenager Quinton Barham, from Wiltshire, only discovered he had been born with a heart condition when he suffered a heart attack during a football game  - an under 14s cup match with Bradford-Upon-Avon YFC, in 2013. After scoring a hat trick Quinton felt dizzy and had severeChildren's cardiac Quinton chest pains before collapsing on the touchline. Quinton was rushed to Bristol Children's Hospital and spent several weeks on the intensive care ward, where heart specialists discovered Quinton had suffered a heart attack because one of his coronary arteries was in the wrong place and had been damaged. Once they discovered this surgeons operated on Quinton's heart to fix it. Quinton spent another couple of weeks in hospital recovering and had a second operation to remove fluid from around his heart. However within weeks of going home he had made a full recovery and was back on the football within months!

Quinton, says:

"Obviously what happened to me was completely unexpected and very traumatic. I feel lucky to have a second chance at life and wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the doctors and nurses who helped with my recovery.  Amazingly, because of my operation I'm now fitter than ever before and can run for longer. I don't get out of breath as easily like I used to." 

Olivia Fowler's story:

Children's cardiac Olivia

Olivia Fowler, from Cornwall, was born in 2009 with a very complicated heart condition which meant she was very sick when she was born, in fact she was born with some of her organs in the wrong place. Olivia had to spend a lot of time in hospital during her first few years, including weeks in intensive care and she underwent three operations to help fix her heart and help her live a more normal life, like her identical twin. The first operation was at just a few weeks old and helped her blood to flow between her lungs and her heart. Described as a 'cheeky character' by her cardiologist Olivia has made a remarkable recovery and in 2014 was able to start school for the first time with her twin. Whilst Olivia has made great progress her condition means that she will need specialist care from the expert doctors and nurses for many years to come.

Olivia's mother Andrea says:"Looking back at Olivia's journey I can't express how astonished I am to see her go from someone who struggles to make it up the stairs or run around with her friends without losing breath. Olivia was unable to get in and out of the bath on her own, all she wanted to do for so long was star jumps, just like her sister, and now she can. Having spent most of her life under the dedicated care of specialist staff at Bristol Children's Hospital who helped her go from strength to strength, I cannot express how truly grateful we are to everyone."

Grace Haywood's story:

Grace, from Stroud, celebrated her first birthday on New Year's Day 2015, after undergoing two heart surgery operations in 2014. Grace was born with a type of heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which meant she was missing part of her heart and underwent her first operation when she was very small - just one week old. She was very poorly for the first few months and had to spend quite a lot of time in hospital, however after the second operation she made really good progress and is now doing really well. Grace only has to visit Bristol for a check-up once every three months.

Grace's mother Jo says:"Since Grace's birth, the specialist staff in Bristol's children's cardiac team have gone above and beyond to help her, and I am so grateful. We too, could not have made it through the past year without their support. The Cardiac Nurse Specialists put us in touch with parents and children who had gone through the same experience, so we could see what we could expect with Grace's condition. She is a fighter and is now doing really well, and we're really looking forward to this year. Who knows what the future will bring, in years to come she could even be heading off to university!"

Harriet Simmonds' story:

Harriet, from Newport, was on her way to school, walking with her father when she stopped at a set of lights and collapsed, losing consciousness. It was just before her 11th birthday. She had suffered a cardiac arrest (when your heart stops beating blood around your body) but luckily was resuscitated by an off duty midwife and paramedic who had been in a car nearby. She was taken first to her local hospital in Newport, then to the paediatric intensive care unit (the ward which treats really sick children) at Cardiff, where doctors discovered Harriet had dilated cardiomyopathy - a disease of the heart muscle causing it to stretch and thin, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood around the body. Harriet was then taken to Bristol where she could be operated on by heart specialists and fitted with a small device (an ICD) which monitors her heart rate and can 'shock' her heart if it stops beating again, stopping her having another heart attack.

There are several side effects of Harriet's condition and the medicine she has to take for it, so Harriet and her father go to regular check-ups so that doctors and nurses can make sure Harriet continues to get the best care. However Harriet has still been able to go back to school and return to normal life.