3 minute read  •  Patient Stories

Mater little miracle Aislinn

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When little Aislinn entered the world on 7 February 2011, second time parents Tracey and Greg Sheehan were overjoyed that their son, Clancy would have a younger sister.

Tracey had experienced a perfect pregnancy with Aislinn and had experienced no complications before Aislinn was born full term at 38 weeks and weighing 2.96 kg.

On the first day after birth, Aislinn was diagnosed with hip dysplasia which meant she would need a Pavlik Harness for three months to gently position her hips so they aligned to her joints.

On the second day after birth, the Sheehan’s were left feeling anxious after Aislinn’s paediatrician heard a whistle in her heart through his stethoscope.

Tracey said she still remembered the anxiety she felt after she found out something could be wrong with Aislinn’s heart.

“I was so shocked, everything in my pregnancy was perfect until my baby was rushed to the cardiology unit because of a whistle in her heart after she was born,” Tracey said. “Soon after, Aislinn was diagnosed with Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) and Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD), which was the beginning of an emotional journey for our family.”

Doctors diagnosed Aislinn with ASD (a form of congenital heart defect) and VSD, commonly known as having holes in the heart.

“We were told that our baby needed open heart surgery to repair the holes in her heart, and if we didn’t pursue the surgery, Aislinn would have a life expectancy of two years.”

Finding it hard to fathom open heart surgery on such a small baby, Tracey and Greg agreed to go ahead with the operation when Aislinn was three months old.

Aislinn underwent a lengthy five hour operation at Mater before spending eight days in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU).

Tracey said it was difficult to see her baby attached to so many tubes at such a young age.

“After we got out of PICU, Aislinn was sent to the Cardiology ward at Mater where she was under constant care for another seven days,” she said.

“Her heart was quite unsettled after surgery and if it didn’t settle down within a few days she would have needed another operation to insert a pacemaker.

Thankfully, Aislinn’s heart did settle down so we didn’t need to go through the emotion of another surgery.”

Tracey said it was a highly stressful and emotional time in her family’s life.

“I am so thankful for everything the Mater has done for Aislinn and my family,” she said.

“The clinical staff were so wonderfully brilliant and provided exceptional ongoing care for Aislinn.”

Now three years old, Aislinn needs physiotherapy and occupational therapy for gross motor development but otherwise is now doing well.

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