Parents thank health visitor who saved their baby's life

Baby Jack is recovering in hospital after life-saving surgery for a an ultra rare condition that affects one in three million babies

Baby Jack is recovering in hospital after life-saving surgery for a an ultra rare condition that affects one in three million babies

First published in News
Last updated
St Helens Star: Photograph of the Author by , Senior reporter

A HEALTH visitor’s advice saved the life of an eight-week-old baby - who went on to be diagnosed with a condition that affects just one in three million infants.

When Jack Jones attended his routine six-week check on August 11, concerns were raised about his head shape.

Three days later, little Jack, who was born on June 25, was undergoing major surgery to save his life.

Jack’s mum Emma Rigby, 26, of Sutton Heath, said: “It all happened so fast.

“As far as we were concerned, Jack was thriving. His checks following birth were all fine, he was gaining weight and seemed happy.

“At the six-week check, everything was going well until she measured the circumference of his head.”

The health visitor - Louise Southward based at the Lowe House Health Centre - told Emma to take Jack to Whiston Hospital “now”.

St Helens Star:

  • A big kiss from Dad: Jack with dad Kelvin

St Helens Star:

  • Cuddles: Jack with Mum, Dad and Granddad

At Whiston, an ultrasound scan was performed and Jack was sent to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool for an MRI scan.

Emma said: “At first, there wasn’t a huge deal of concern. They thought it was hydrocephalus, which is a build-up of fluid on the brain. They said he would just need a routine operation.”

but further analysis of the MRI scan revealed that Jack was suffering from a more serious, rare condition called ‘Vein of Galen Malformation’.

Emma, who works as a residential carer, said: “It was a nightmare, I couldn’t believe it was happening to us. It’s the sort of thing you see on TV.

“We had gone from having what we thought was a perfectly healthy baby to one whose life was at risk.”

St Helens Star:

  • Little angel: Baby Jack had a condition that affects one in three million babies

St Helens Star:

  • World class: Dr Jo Bhattacharya performed the surgery

On Wednesday, August 13, Jack was transferred to Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in Glasgow by ambulance, where he was seen by specialist Dr Jo Bhattacharya.

Emma, who went to Rainhill High School, said: “By this point we were distraught. They put him in a little pod in the ambulance and I went with him. His dad had to follow us by car.”

Dr Bhattacharya, a consultant neuro-radiologist, explained to the couple that the condition was very rare - around one in three million - and said if Jack didn’t have surgery, he would die due to heart failure and brain damage.

The following day, Jack’s operation was performed.

Emma said: “The surgeon is a worldwide specialist - one of just two in the country. He told us the facts but was also very calm and reassuring. He said the fact that Jack was thriving was in his favour and gave him a better chance of coming through the surgery well.

“We tried to sleep while they were operating as we hadn’t slept for three days.

“We were ecstatic when the doctor came and told us Jack was doing well and was in intensive care.”

Since the operation, Jack has been moved to the high dependency ward - and his mum said he is already feeding well and wiggling around.

On Friday, he will be transferred to Alder Hey, where he will spend a few days before returning home.

Jack’s dad Kelvin, 46, said: “We are just speechless. We can’t thank the health visitor enough. A tape measure saved our son’s life.”

Emma said: “It’s been a horrible week but now I’m on cloud nine.

“Sometimes people criticise the NHS or say health visitors poke their noses into people’s business.

“They are wrong. She is amazing. If I’d needed to, I’d have paid anything for Jack to have this operation, but you couldn’t ask for more than we got through the NHS.

“The health visitor will probably say she was just doing her job, but to our family, it means so much.”

It is hoped baby Jack will gradually return to full health but be monitored for the rest of his life.

Comments (4)

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11:28am Thu 21 Aug 14

Natalie*** says...

wow! What a brilliant health visitor Louise is, actually acting on the spot, scary to think of what could of happened if she didn't. So grateful as a close friend of the family!
wow! What a brilliant health visitor Louise is, actually acting on the spot, scary to think of what could of happened if she didn't. So grateful as a close friend of the family! Natalie***
  • Score: 11

1:12pm Thu 21 Aug 14

crawsy08 says...

I am the sister of Kelvin living on the other side of the world in Gold Coast, Australia. I myself have a 5 week old, so to hear our Kel & Emma go through such a shocking time really hit a nerve.
That health visitor is nothing short of amazing. She could easily have said we'll monitor it or come back next week.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We owe you Jacks life.
Your a star x x x
I am the sister of Kelvin living on the other side of the world in Gold Coast, Australia. I myself have a 5 week old, so to hear our Kel & Emma go through such a shocking time really hit a nerve. That health visitor is nothing short of amazing. She could easily have said we'll monitor it or come back next week. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We owe you Jacks life. Your a star x x x crawsy08
  • Score: 8

5:09pm Thu 21 Aug 14

emmaabram says...

We are all so glad that little Jack has made such a great recovery and wish Kel, Emma and Jack all the very best. The NHS do an amazing job thank god ****
We are all so glad that little Jack has made such a great recovery and wish Kel, Emma and Jack all the very best. The NHS do an amazing job thank god **** emmaabram
  • Score: 5

10:36am Sat 23 Aug 14

Kcondunc says...

We are Aunti n uncle living in NSW Australia and we are deeply grateful to louise the health visitor and the service of the nhs. We are so relieved that Jack has survived surgery and we will be forever grateful for the care that has been provided for him.
We are Aunti n uncle living in NSW Australia and we are deeply grateful to louise the health visitor and the service of the nhs. We are so relieved that Jack has survived surgery and we will be forever grateful for the care that has been provided for him. Kcondunc
  • Score: 1

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