A LITTLE boy who suffered the trauma of open heart surgery is winning his fight for life.
Benjamin Jamieson, of Paxton Street, Accrington, is on the mend after pulling through the major operation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital.
Following the high-risk surgery, Benjamin, who turns four next month but is the size of a boy half his age, was critically ill when his kidneys failed and lungs collapsed.
Mum Mary explained: "He was in intensive care for 13 days and he was asleep for 10 of those days. He was pretty much fighting for his life.
"Sometimes the children can go into the intensive care unit for 10 hours and then go back to the cardiac ward, but sometimes there are side effects."
In February 2006, Benjamin was born two months premature with DiGeorge Syndrome, which affects roughly one in every 4,000 births.
He had a hole in his heart, malfunctioning arteries and a deficient immune system, leaving him extremely vulnerable to infection.
Astonishingly, his mum Mary didn’t know she was pregnant until she entered labour, despite giving birth to Benjamin’s brother Joshua two years earlier.
Benjamin had to wait until he grew big enough to be able to survive surgery, but his health was deteriorating rapidly beforehand.
Mary, 22, said: "We knew it was going to be soon because he was going downhill. The oxygen level in the blood was supposed to be 95 and it was 72. He could hardly walk up and down stairs and he had to have grab rails and a ramp at the back door. He was having four naps and sleeping 16 hours a day. We were so worried about him."
Benjamin, who requires constant supervision, enjoyed a family Christmas at home with his new pet dog Isabelle, a cairn terrier from Hyndburn Stray Dogs in Need.
Mary said: "He just sees hospital as part of normal life and he is very proud of his operation scar, which he calls his ‘action man tattoo’."
She added: "Alder Hey is an absolutely fantastic hospital."
If all goes well Benjamin will not need a further operation until he is at least 16. His grandparents Gordon and Diane live next door to Mary, offering a priceless ‘safety blanket’, along with her sister Lynn and friend Jenny.
Diane explained: "The last few years have been absolutely horrendous. Mary has been through such a lot. Ben was only a few weeks old when she had a major flood and had to move out. You wouldn’t believe what she's been through. He will never get rid of this syndrome, but hopefully it will be a bit better now."