Five-month-old boy recovering after successful cutting-edge heart valve surgery at Freeman hospital

A five-month-old boy from Hartlepool has returned home from intensive care after undergoing successful heart surgery.

His parents describe the emotional "rollercoaster" of the time since doctors diagnosed the newborn baby with a leaky heart valve.

Young Teddy had "one of the worst aortic valves" a Freeman Hospital cardiologist had ever seen, according to his dad Harri Stevens.

"There was only a jet of blood keeping him alive," said 30-year-old Harri. "And that original diagnosis felt like being hit by a bus."

Harri and his partner Taylor first became concerned when Teddy appeared breathless, sweaty and was struggling to feed in his first couple of weeks at home. A heart scan revealed a problem with one of his heart valves, which was restricting blood flow to Teddy's heart.

The family were transferred from North Tees to Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where he was taken for keyhole surgery to relieve the pressure on his heart.

Teddy has been in and out of the hospital and two weeks ago had his first open heart surgery, which saw a new valve successfully positioned.

Credit: Family photo

"He was the youngest baby they have ever done that type of reconstruction on, and it's truly amazing what surgeons can achieve. They've crafted a valve less than a centimetre wide, and because of that he shouldn't have to have open heart surgery again for at least a year."

Harri, who also has a two-year-old daughter with Taylor, continued: "It’s been a rollercoaster. When we first found out, it’s like getting hit by a bus. It’s not what you want to hear about your little baby. 

"But as you move through the journey and get positive updates, you feel on top of the world. To be told when he came out the surgery that Plan A worked, you feel fantastic, absolutely on top of the world."

Teddy is likely to require more surgery in a year's time as the valve does not have the potential to grow. But since returning home on Thursday, Teddy's been recovery and mood have been "brilliant".

"He’s back to his best if not better," added Harri. "He’s recovering all the time and it’s such a slow process. 

"But he’s coming on leaps and bounds. We’re just generally heading in the right direction."

Throughout Teddy's treatment, the family have been supported by the Children's Heart Unit Fund (CHUF), which includes funds for food, parking and accommodation.

"They help families an unbelievable amount" explained Harri. "So we've decided we wanted to do something to recognise the incredible team, who gave Teddy a hope at some normality in his life.

"He has a long road ahead but had it not have been for them he wouldn't be here at all.

The couple have set up an online raffle website, called Ted's Trophies, where proceeds from ticket sales go to CHUF and the Sick Children's Trust. Prizes on offer include a PS5 bundle, a stay at Ramside Lodge and a Dyson Airwrap.

"The sky's the limit when it comes to fundraising" said Harri. "We want to keep spreading the word, and after this round of prizes, will we keep building so we can help as many kids as possible."

Teddy is still recovering in hospital from his operation, but his parents hope he will be moved out of intensive care in the following days.