Birthday joy for brave 'miracle child' born with half a heart
A brave toddler born with half a heart has defied her condition by celebrating her third birthday.
Imogen Hope Penney, of Gillingham, was born with a hole in her heart and the entire left ventricle missing.
In her 36 months of life she has already undergone two open-heart surgeries, four cardiac catheter procedures and hundreds of medical tests.
After the youngster reached her third birthday earlier this month, proud mum Gemma Penney, 30, hailed her “little warrior” and said every day with her is a blessing.
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She said: “Imogen has done so much better than anyone expected. She has been incredibly brave. Every milestone for a child is special, but for Imogen it’s even more amazing.
“She is a really happy girl who is full of life. She loves watching Angelina Ballerina and telling off her two brothers, Jack and Matthew.
“Every day we have with her is a blessing. We know that 40 per cent of babies with Imogen’s condition will lose their fight before their first birthday, while 25 per cent that do survive the first year will not see the age of five.
“She is our miracle child.”
Imogen was born in January 2010 with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and unbalanced atrioventricular septal defect.
Mrs Penney believes the condition would have proven fatal if a sharp-eyed medic at Yeovil District Hospital had not spotted the defect during a scan at 23 weeks pregnant.
The early warning allowed doctors to prepare to administer intensive care immediately after the youngster was delivered at St Michael’s Hospital, in Bristol.
At the tender age of six days, Imogen was then whisked into theatre for her first open-heart surgery which lasted for nine hours.
“It was a surreal experience seeing your newly-born child taken away for a life-saving operation,” her mother added.
“It is truly amazing to see her now.”
Imogen, who is to have her third open-heart surgery this summer, is also expected to undergo a heart transplant before her 18th birthday.
Mrs Penney and her husband, Chris, hopes to raise awareness of the condition to bring in compulsory oxygen saturation tests on new-born babies – a simple 30-second procedure that could save their lives.
Mrs Penney said: “When you look at the statistics of congenital heart disease it kills more children under the age of one than cancer. It’s a simple, painless test which could save a life. It should be carried out as a standard procedure before a new-born baby leaves the hospital.
“My plea to all new parents or parents-to-be is to be aware of this condition and to ask your doctor if you are concerned about your baby.”
The family is supporting Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week, which takes place from Thursday, February 7 to Thursday, February 14.