Pictures & video: NNP.
A premature baby, whose heart was the size of a thumbnail when he underwent cardiac surgery and was put in a sandwich bag to keep his tiny body warm, has celebrated his first birthday today after a miracle recovery.
One-year-old Noah Clarey needed a complex operation to save his life after his mum Helen, 30, of Durham City, gave birth at just 26 weeks.
Weighing a mere 2lb 2ozs, he was placed inside a tiny sandwich bag to help keep him warm and hooked up to a ventilator in a bid to keep him alive.
A scan then showed a duct in his minuscule heart was wide open and needed to be closed straight away, if there was to be any chance of his survival.
But he made a miracle recovery after the operation which saw his heart, the size of a mere thumbnail, operated on.
Noah looks fit, healthy and happy and shows no signs of the problems he faced a year ago.
Noah’s mum Mrs Clarey, a practice nurse at Ferryhill Hospital, who is married to Neil Clarey, 35, said they spent a few hours desperately waiting to hear if their newborn son would survive.
She said: “When he came out he looked like a jelly baby and sounded like a little kitten.
“The nurses put him in a tiny sandwich bag to keep him warm and they took him away for five hours. He was put on ventilation and then assisted ventilation and then after four weeks they did a scan on his heart.
“We were terrified that he may not survive after being told to fear the worst.
“Neil was really good at keeping me calm, him and all our family, were there for me at all times and that is what I needed.”
Noah’s dad Neil and his friends have organised a special fund-raising football match at St James’ Park on Monday at 11am.
Helen and Neil say they could not have made it through the past 12 months without the help of the Tiny Lives charity, which supports premature children born at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
She said: “I feel so grateful to all the doctors and nurses and everyone who helped us.”
Dr Alan Fenton, Honorary Clinical Lecturer at Newcastle University and Consultant Neonatal Paediatrician at the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’ve known for many years that premature babies do better if they are not allowed to get cold at delivery.
“We have tried numerous measures including heated mattresses, drying them off at delivery and making sure the delivery rooms are not cold.
“The bags have the advantage that we can still clearly see the baby and monitor what is happening whilst we are stabilizing them. They act like a mini incubator.”
At five weeks old, and weighing just 3lbs, the youngster was transferred from the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, where he was born, to the city’s Freeman Hospital, where he underwent a 30-minute operation to close the duct.
After the operation Helen and Neil, a plumber, along with Noah’s big sister, Phoebe, five, waited to see the progress Noah would make.
Mrs Clarey said: “It was the longest 30 minutes of our lives.
“He started off getting a lot better but all of a sudden became very poorly.
“He started showing signs of recovery and then all of a sudden pulled his own ventilator off himself. It was like he was saying, ‘I’m sick of this now!
“From then on he’s just got better and better. And he’s such a little fighter and so smiley and happy now.
“He also is checked up on by a cardiologist.
“It was hard as it wasn’t like bringing home a new born baby as we were terrified to leave him.”
Words: Matt Smith, North News and Pictures Ltd (NNP).