Band of brothers: Strong bond between boys born on the same day with the same deadly heart defect… and treated by the same surgeon
These three baby boys have more than just their date of birth in common. Bradley Carruthers, Cody Cooper and Jack Gallagher also suffered from the same deadly heart condition and underwent the same life-saving operation at the same hospital.
The three youngsters, all from Greater Manchester, were born on 15 October with the same defect, which meant their major heart vessels were in the wrong place, which would prove fatal unless corrected.
The trio underwent a four-hour operation at Alder Hey Hospital in Liverpool on consecutive days just over a week after their births and have returned to their homes within a few miles of each other.
Jack Gallagher, Bradley Carruthers and Cody Cooper (l-r) were all born on the same day in October with the same deadly heart condition
Their parents became good friends during the ordeal and plan to meet up regularly now the brave boys have been given the all-clear and expect to live normal lives.
Curtis Carruthers, Bradley’s father, said: “It was a scary time. It was our first baby and we wanted everything to be right.
“He had his operation when he was nine days old. We cried when he went to theatre – it was a tough time. When they took all the tubes away and we saw him breathing on his own, it was amazing.”
The 24-year-old added: “It is mad that there were three babies at Alder Hey at the same time with the same thing.
“What the surgeons have done to keep a baby alive is brilliant”
Concern arose for Curtis and his partner, Janine Collier, 20, shortly after Bradley was born at Fairfield Hospital, weighing 5lbs 15oz, as he was unable to take a feed.
Nurses realised there was a problem and arranged for Bradley to be transported to St Mary’s Hospital for tests and then ontoAlder Hey Hospital in Liverpool.
Janine and Curtis are planning a big celebration at Christmas now that their baby is on the road to recovery.
Like family: The parents of Bradley Carruthers, Cody Cooper and Jack Gallagher (pictured from l-r)
Curtis said: “Bradley has been through more than any of us have ever gone through in our lives. It makes him even more special.”
He added: “We have stayed in contact withthe other two couples and we are planning on going to McDonalds for a happy meal for their first birthdays.”
The parents chose McDonalds because they stayed in Ronald McDonald House accommodation at Alder Hey while their babies were undergoing treatment.
Mr Prem Sundar Venugopal, consultantpaediatric cardiac surgeon at Alder Hey, performed all three operations – a transposition of the great arteries.
The surgery switches around the two major heart vessels, which carry blood away from the heart, to put them in the right place.
Cody Cooper arrived at 39 weeks weighing 7lb 4oz, after hospital staff managed to delay the labour for 15 weeks
He said: “We do 30 operations a year while nationally there about 200 operations at the 10 paediatric cardiac hospitals in the UK.
““But what is quite unusual in my experience is to have three babies born with the same condition from the same region and then operated on on three different days, one after the other.”
Cody’s mother Michelle Bleakley, aged34, and her window cleaner partner, Curtis Cooper, aged 37, discovered Cody’s problems at a 20-week scan at the Royal Bolton Hospital.
Ms Bleakley said: “We were terrified. I spent that weekend crying”
Cody arrived at 39 weeks weighing 7lb 4oz, after hospital staff managed to delay the labour for 15 weeks.
Within hours he was takento Alder Hey Hospital to prepare for his operation, which took place when he was 10 days old.
Ms Bleakley, a mother-of-five, said: “After Cody’s operation he had all of the tubes in him and he looked grey.
“We couldn’t lift him because of the heart surgery so it was three weeks before his brothers and sisters could hold him. Cody is doing fantastically now. He lost a lot of weight after the operation but he issmiling and fighting back now.”
Jack’s father Bob, 51, said they had no idea of his condition until he was born at a healthy 8lbs 5oz.
Bob, a police officer, and Sarah, a PCSO, say Jack is doing fine but he’ll needregular hospital check-ups.