Carole, on her blog Fractured Thoughts, mentioned the other day about it being a year since her granddaughter, Nebraska, had open-heart surgery. The photo of the wee lass, post-operation, twanged all sorts of emotional strings with me as Meg went through an almost identical journey when she was tiny.
Meg’s operation had a profound effect on me, which I’ve written about elsewhere on this blog (see Losing My Religion). But had we not put her through it, she would have been unlikely to live beyond the age of 8 (see Meg is 9).
This is now, dare I say, a relatively routine operation. But it wasn’t always the case. Around 40% of children born with Down’s Syndrome have some kind of heart defect, ranging from a mild murmur that will never be a bother, right through to hearts that give out shortly after the child is born.
It wasn’t until relatively recently that a) these operations were performed early enough to have the best effect, or b) they were even offered to children with DS.
But then it’s only been a couple of decades since they stopped immediately whipping away children born with DS to be put in institutions, while it was recommended to the parents that they just tell friends and family their child was stillborn.
Born in almost any other era, or even today in certain other countries, Meg would not be alive now.
By coincidence, I took Meg along to see the consultant today for her heart check-up, nearly 10 years after her operation, and everything sounds fine. She will be seen again in 4 years, but it was quite obvious the consultant doesn’t expect to find any problems again.
Meg aged 5 months
Meg aged 10 years