Brave Hope's battle for life

IT takes more than an hour for Dee Puttock to walk a journey that would normally take five minutes - as she is always stopped so people can see her baby Hope.

IT takes more than an hour for Dee Puttock to walk a journey that would normally take five minutes - as she is always stopped so people can see her baby Hope.

For the five-month-old, who is facing major health problems, has become something of a celebrity in Martlesham.

She was born more than ten weeks early, weighing little more than 2lbs and 2ozs, and within days she was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.

Doctors also discovered she had an 11mm hole in her tiny heart as well as a secondary hole affecting its function.

It was initially thought open heart surgery could wait until she was around two years old, but Hope rapidly deteriorated in hospital and her heart, and liver, began to fail.

Ms Puttock, 36, said: “They did an echo scan and it showed that she had a blip in her heart. But then we found out that it was not a blip but a major problem and it was life threatening.

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“She started to go into heart failure and she only had a matter of weeks to have an operation or she wouldn't have made it.

“She was breathless and not feeding and she went a funny colour, a mottled colour.”

Hope was taken to Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London and on August 9 she had the 10-and-a-half hour operation, in which doctors effectively put a plaster over the hole in her heart.

Within 24 hours she had recovered sufficiently from the operation that she could be transferred from intensive care to a normal ward and within five days she was back at home.

“They called her 'the rocket' because she recovered so fast,” Ms Puttock said. “The doctors said she was the first baby to recover that quickly.”

Until Hope was born by Caesarean section on March 26, her mum had no idea her daughter had Down's Syndrome - despite going through scans and tests during pregnancy.

But the moment she saw Hope's hands, which had only one crease in them - a common characteristic of the condition - she knew what the diagnosis would be.

It was a massive shock for Ms Puttock, who has five other children, and she admitted that she initially thought about giving up her baby for adoption.

She was sent home with little information on the syndrome, about what the future might hold, or how to alleviate the difficulties her daughter may face.

But she discovered the local charity LOADS, and she has now been given new hope for her baby's life.

She said: “I was quite suicidal, I thought it was not fair. But she is absolutely fabulous and it is so important to have the support there.

“Her story should give inspiration to parents of children with Down's Syndrome that there is a lot that they can do, that their children can live independent lives and that there is support out there.

“We all love Hope. She's really special.”

n Down's Syndrome is caused by the extra copy of chromosome 21, making 47 in all.

n Most people with Down's Syndrome share certain physical characteristics.

n The name “Down” derives from the English doctor John Langdon Down who first described the syndrome in 1866.

n The syndrome is the most common form of learning disability. The level of learning disability will vary from person to person and cannot be predicted at birth.

n It is reported that mothers in the 35-plus age group are at higher risk, but babies with Down's Syndrome can be born to any mother.

n In the UK there are approximately one to two babies born each day with Down's Syndrome.

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