Baby born with half a heart survives despite going FOUR MONTHS without treatment
Scarlett Dougan suffers from Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, where the right side of the organ is underdevelopedMany babies diagnosed with the rare condition die within days of birthSince her diagnosis baby Scarlett has undergone two major heart operations
20:22 GMT, 8 September 2012
A baby girl born with half a heart survived despite the fact her life-threatening condition was not diagnosed until she reached four months old.
Scarlett Dougan was born with rare Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome (HRHS) – where the right side of the heart is underdeveloped – meaning her body was unable to pump enough blood to her lungs.
Few of the 600 babies diagnosed with the condition every year survive, with many dying within days of birth.
Survivor: Baby Scarlett was born with a rare life-threatening condition that went undiagnosed until she was over four months old
But fighter Scarlett, from Glasgow, is beating the odds despite the delay in detecting her condition.
Ordinarily HRHS in a baby would be picked up by the 22-week scan carried out on expectant mothers.
But it wasn't until Scarlett's mother Nichola spotted the difference in temperament between Scarlett and her older brother Nathanial, 23 months, that she began to suspect there was a problem.
'Nathanial is such a happy wee boy, everybody knows how happy he is,' the primary school teacher said.
'But I think people started to think: “She's wild”, because Scarlett was just so unhappy and screamed all the time.'
The 28-year-old eventually made a breakthrough while talking to a Guide leader who was also a paediatrician about Scarlett's constant crying and sleepless nights.
After a quick examination, Nichola was advised to take her daughter to Yorkhill Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow.
Scarlett was immediately whisked to intensive care after an assessment at the hospital, and a treatment plan drawn up.
Doctors told Nichola her daughter had overcome all the odds to make it so far without treatment.
'It was unbelievable,' said Nichola.
'From having a child that you think is healthy to this. I thought at worst she might have asthma.'
'It is a miracle she is still here,' said Scarlett's mum.
'The doctors can't really believe how a child can get to four and a half months with that condition.
'Normally Scarlett's condition would be picked up at the 22-week scan. In the days before scans the babies would go home and just succumb to the condition.'
Happy family: Baby Scarlett pictured with big brother Nathanial, 23 months, dad Peter, 30, and mum Nichola, 28
Baby Scarlett has since come through two major heart operations during which doctors spent hours rerouting major arteries directly to her lungs to improve her flow of oxygen.
The tot's turnaround has been so remarkable her doctors are now hoping she will enjoy a relatively normal childhood, although it is likely Scarlett will need to undergo a heart transplant by the time she reaches her early teens.
'She's never going to be an athlete,' her mum said.
The rare syndrome puts extra strain on the working side of the heart as it compensates for the defective heart. This strain eventually leads to the organ wearing out.
Nichola, with help from Scarlett's dad Peter, 30, and her family, has organised a charity ball in Scarlett's name to raise money for Yorkhill Hospital.
She is hoping the ball, which aims to raise thousands for new equipment at the hospital, will become an annual event.