Unborn baby needs a heart op

AS MELLISA and Jeremy Fisher await the arrival of their second child, regular pregnancy fears have been magnified because they already know their baby girl will be born with a rare congenital heart disease.

The doctors first realised something was different at Mrs Fisher's 20-week scan and after sending her to Brisbane for multiple tests and scans, they discovered that the baby (already named Ruby) would be born with hypo-plastic left heart syndrome.

The Fisher family. L-R Jeremy and Mellisa Fisher of Goonellabah. Mellisa is pregnant with her second child that doctors have diagnosed to have Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome that it will be born with. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star
The Fisher family. L-R Jeremy and Mellisa Fisher of Goonellabah. Mellisa is pregnant with her second child that doctors have diagnosed to have Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome that it will be born with. Photo Patrick Gorbunovs / The Northern Star Patrick Gorbunovs

What that means is that the left side of the heart - the side that pumps blood to the rest of the body - is under-developed or not developed at all, explained Mr Fisher.

Around one in 3000 or 4000 will have the syndrome explained Mellisa's brother, Phill Mayer.

Because there is so little research and the treatments and surgeries available are all relatively new it is difficult to know how Ruby's life could turn out, Mr Mayer said.

While already a devastating discovery, Mr Mayer said that the couple were then confronted by the suggestion that termination might be the best option.

Instead, the Goonellabah couple looked ahead and now, at 36 weeks pregnant, Mr and Mrs Fisher are waiting to face the next stage: birth and beyond.

Currently only a couple of hospitals in Australia are able to do surgery on babies with the disease, and in just over a week, the family will travel to Westmead Children's Hospital in Western Sydney where Ruby will be born.

Ruby is set to have her first round of surgery at one or two days old, and a second round at two or three months old, with more likely as she gets older.

This means Mrs Fisher will have to stay in Sydney for at least three months, and although there are some subsidies for the surgery and her stay, accommodation costs will fall on the family.

Mr and Mrs Fisher said they were lucky to have a supportive family, who had banded together to do what they could for the couple.

Mr Mayer has organized a Family Fun Day , which will include face-painting, games, raffles, a barbecue and live entertainment at Cherry Street Bowling Club, Ballina, from noon on May 12 to raise funds.

Visit the Ruby Fisher Fundraiser Facebook page for more information or to donate.



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