How baby Jack fought for his first Christmas

Only hours after Jack was born, he turned blue. He needed open heart surgery, and he needed it quickly. So less than a week later, his doctors performed a life saving operation pioneered by a BHF Professor. Thanks to that operation, Jack made it home for Christmas – Jack is why we fight.

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Born four weeks before Christmas

“Our beautiful little son Jack Harrison Read was born at 11.30pm on 23rd November 2010,” says dad, Nick. Sadly, the joy Nick and his wife Sam felt was short lived as the very next morning, Jack became shaky and unsettled. Sam knew something was wrong.

They told the nurses, and tests confirmed their fears – Jack’s oxygen levels were worryingly low and he was rushed to the Special Baby Care Unit. Once there, consultants delivered the devastating news that he had a serious problem with his heart.

Jack had been born with a condition that meant two of the main vessels leaving the heart were the wrong way round. Instead of oxygen-rich blood, blood with little oxygen was being pumped around his body.

Facing a medical emergency

Nick remembers being told their baby would need open heart surgery to survive. “I was numb with fear, Jack looked so vulnerable. How could such a big operation on such a tiny baby be successful?”

A life saving operation developed by a BHF professor

The operation Jack had is known as ‘the switch’ and was developed by BHF Professor of Cardiac Surgery, Professor Sir Magdi Yacoub. Jack was in surgery for nearly eight hours. “It was the longest day of our lives,” says Nick. “We’d been told he would be out of surgery by about 4pm, and believe me, when you have been told that, you are counting down the minutes and seconds.”

The “smiling tornado”

Seeing their baby in the intensive care unit, Sam and Nick thought he would need weeks to recover. “But to our amazement, Jack came home only ten days later. Just amazing - the best possible Christmas present.” 

Jack is now six and a keen footballer. “He’s been called the “smiling tornado,” says mum, Sam. “He runs around like a whirlwind. He thrives on learning new things and is interested in everything.”

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