A baby with only half a heart has finally been allowed home after he survived risky open-heart surgery – at just four days old.
Reggie Aslin was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare defect which means the right half of his heart doesn’t exist.
After spending six years trying for a baby, his parents Lee and Michelle Aslin, 35 and 34, were given the devastating news at their 20-week scan.
Doctors said that if Reggie survived the birth – a 50 per cent chance – he would need three open-heart surgical procedures and was unlikely to live beyond his teens.
But the brave couple turned down an abortion and the tot was born by C-section at 9.50am on September 1, weighing 9lbs 12oz.
At just four days old, Reggie underwent open-heart surgery to ‘re-plumb’ his heart – a gruelling, nine-hour op that left him with a huge scar down his chest.
But the little fighter pulled through, and this week Lee and Michelle were able to bring him home.
Dad Lee, a bodyguard of Grimsby, Lincs., said Reggie, who celebrated his six-week milestone on Friday, is their “heart warrior”.
He said: “At one point a few months ago I was wondering whether I would ever get to take my little boy home.
“We didn’t know if he was going to be breathing when he was born or if he was going to get through the operation – but he did.
“After the surgery, we got told that Reggie could be in hospital for three or four months but he has recovered really really well.
“We were feeling a little bit nervous bringing him home but he is doing everything for himself.
“He is a little heart warrior. He is a little miracle”
He added: “We are just so excited and are looking forward to spending his first Christmas with him at home.”
Mum Michelle, a lunchtime supervisor, added: “It is very overwhelming and it’s scary, but it means the world to be able to have him here.
“The kitchen is like a pharmacy because Reggie is on seven different tablets and there’s a lot to think about, but it’s just perfect now.
“Not in a million years did we ever think we would get to this point this quickly.”
Lee and Michelle spent six weeks at Leeds Royal Infirmary before they were finally given the go-ahead to bring Reggie home on Thursday night.
At four days old, he had the first stage of the Norwood procedure, a high risk, three-step surgery which gets the right side of the heart to do the job of the left side.
It ‘rewires’ the right ventricle to pump red blood to the body, while the blue blood is allowed to flow directly to the lungs.
Lee said: “The first operation is always the most dangerous one because it is the longest and most complex, so that was the biggest hurdle.
“Because he has pulled through that, we have got all the confidence in the world that he will pull through the others.
“He has been through more in his few weeks of life than I have in 35 years. He is definitely a little fighter.”
Mum Michelle, who also has a 13-year-old daughter, Katelyn, added that she is pleased they decided against an abortion.
She said: “We had been trying for six years and we got told that it would more or less be IVF so we were over the moon when we found out I was pregnant.
“The 20 week scan, when we found out Reggie had HLHS, was absolutely heartbreaking.
“But he has done tremendously well – it’s not all negativity.
“It means so much to have him here and however long we have with him, whether it’s two months, a year, 10 years or beyond, we are just happy for this bit of time.
“We are going to give him as much love and as many memories as we can. He will have the best life he can ever have.”
“We are hoping that in the next 19 or 20 years, something else will come out to help him,” she added.
“If he doesn’t want to fight any more that is his choice – it isn’t anyone else’s to make.”
The family are now looking forward to spending Reggie’s first Christmas together at home.
Anyone who wants to talk about HLHS can contact Michelle and Lee by searching ‘Reggie’s Story’ on Facebook.