Little fighter on road to recovery

CRADLED in his family's arms, Thomas George Landers is every inch the picture of health today.But this contented image belies the drama of his parent's darkest days and Thomas' fragile foothold on life.

CRADLED in his family's arms, Thomas George Landers is every inch the picture of health today.

But this contented image belies the drama of his parent's darkest days and Thomas' fragile foothold on life.

Just two days after his birth his mum and dad's joy turned despair when doctors told them their son needed emergency heart surgery to survive.

The drama began shortly after Kelly and Richard Landers, of Dereham Road, Ipswich, brought Thomas back to the home they share with his three-year-old sister Katie.

Born on September 30, Thomas was allowed home the same day. Concerned over problems with his feeding for the first two days, the Landers asked the community midwife to check on him.

Mrs Landers said: "I had just tried to give him a feed and he was breathing rapidly. It was as if he could not breathe."

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The midwife told the couple to take Thomas to Ipswich Hospital where their worst fears were confirmed.

During tests the doctors found the infant had only a feint pulse in his groin and his oxygen level was low. It was then Mr and Mrs Landers were told Thomas was going into heart failure.

With his condition deteriorating, a doctor picked Thomas up in the car seat he was brought in on and ran through the corridors to the special baby care unit. A nurse ran beside him holding the oxygen being used to keep Thomas breathing.

Mrs Landers, a 28-year-old teacher at Dale Hall primary school in Ipswich, said: "We were just panicking. They did about four hours of tests. I remember sitting their thinking I have never felt fear like it."

Results showed Thomas had a narrow and deformed aorta which needed life-saving surgery.

Only three days after coming into the world as a healthy 9lb 11oz baby, the youngster was involved in a mercy dash to Guy's Hospital in London. When he arrived, there was more bad news for his distraught parents. A nurse told them doctors had also found a hole in his heart.

Mrs Landers said: "We were numb. The thing that was going through my mind was that we might not actually see him again. It was such a big shock. His heart was going into failure and his body was starting to shut down. When we spoke to the surgeon he said without the operation Thomas was doomed."

Medical staff stabilised Thomas' condition for two days with the aid of drugs, before they could carry out the five-hour operation to save his life.

Thomas was transferred back to Ipswich Hospital Bergholt Ward shortly afterwards and was allowed to return home about a week later.

Mrs Landers said: "Thomas has been fantastic. On Thursday this week we were told he will be weaned off all his medication in the next ten weeks and after that he will be pretty much mended.

"I can't believe how lucky we have been. We are thankful he's come through it so well."

The Landers were also keen to say a big thank you to all the medical staff who played a part in saving Thomas' life.

Mrs Landers said: "When we needed them most, everyone did a fabulous job."

THE aorta is body's main artery arising from the left ventricle of the heart.

It carries freshly oxygenated blood, arches over the top of the heart and descends through the trunk, finally splitting in the lower abdomen to form the two iliac arteries.

Arteries branching off the arch of the aorta carry blood to the upper body.

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