Photo session saved baby's life

Danny Davies, pictured with his mother Fran, was saved when a trip to a photographer showed signs he was seriously ill (University Hospital Southampton/PA)

Danny Davies, pictured with his mother Fran, was saved when a trip to a photographer showed signs he was seriously ill (University Hospital Southampton/PA)

First published in National News © by

A baby with a rare heart condition was saved when a trip to a professional photographer showed up tell-tale signs that he was seriously ill.

Parents Neil and Fran Davies booked the session to get treasured family snaps of their son Danny when he was just a few weeks old.

The infant had appeared the picture of health when he was born and no-one was too worried that he looked slightly purple - assuming he was simply a bit bruised by his arrival. But when the photos were developed his parents noticed the purple blotches on Danny's skin had got worse and his hands and feet looked almost blue.

This sparked a chain of events that ended in life-saving treatment at Southampton General Hospital, where baby Danny was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia with ventricular septal defect (PA-VSD).

Two days after the photo session, Mrs Davies mentioned her concerns about the blotches to a community nurse who sent them to their GP to get Danny's oxygen levels checked. Unfortunately, the doctor's surgery had only an adult's machine available so when Danny's oxygen levels were reading at 50% - when you would expect rates of 97% or over - everyone assumed it was because it was not a children's device.

To be on the safe side, Danny was then sent to St Richard's Hospital in Chichester so a proper test could be performed and, after two hours of trying to get a normal reading, Danny was sent to the paediatric cardiac centre at Southampton General Hospital.

Within two hours of arriving, Danny was in theatre as doctors tried to deal with the PA-VSD - a very rare congenital malformation of the heart where the pulmonary valve fails to develop properly, obstructing the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs.

Danny remained in theatre for more than 10 hours as consultant cardiac surgeons Nicola Viola and Markku Kaarne struggled to stabilise him. Mrs Davies said: "We were told that he would need to go on an ECMO machine when he came out of theatre, which would keep him alive in what was a desperate situation."

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) provides both cardiac and respiratory support. After seven days Danny came off the machine but remained in hospital for another four months, undergoing further surgery to reconstruct his heart and help it work more efficiently.

Finally, in October 2010, Danny was allowed to return home. He is now two, has a little sister called Sky and has a new home more suited to his care. But he has now undergone a further 12 procedures and will need to come to the cardiac ward at Southampton throughout his life. Mrs Davies said: "We expect to have many more visits to the hospital but we know we are in safe hands and Danny is given the best care we could hope for."

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