Meet the patients: Melanie Goodenough

Patient Melanie Goodenough and baby CharlieMy name’s Melanie, I’m 31 years old and I was born with a hole in my heart, co-arctation of the aorta and a bi-cuspid aortic valve.

My journey began when I was just days old and following a GP home visit I was admitted to Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot .  Shortly following my admission I was diagnosed with serious heart failure.  Due to the seriousness of my condition, I was not expected to survive and I was christened on the ward.

Fortunately for me, a doctor at Heatherwood knew of a team of paediatric cardiac consultants who may be able to help, and with nothing to lose, I was transferred by ambulance to Hammersmith Hospital in London .  At 10 days old a surgeon called Mr Sapsford carried out pioneering surgery and saved my life.  I underwent a pulmonary artery banding and the narrow section of the aorta was removed.  I remained in hospital for 3 months but then returned home with my family.

I continued to be monitored and at the age of 4 I underwent my second operation to mend the hole in my heart.  Again, the surgery was a complete success and following a lengthy stay in hospital I was well enough to return home and carry on with life as normal.

I don’t ever remember feeling unwell with my heart condition and enjoyed all the normal activities children do.  I was aware that I had a heart condition but never let it stand in my way or prevent me from doing anything at all.

As I continued to grow the narrowing in my aorta returned and at the age of 11 I underwent a balloon angioplasty at Great Ormond Street Hospital to attempt to stretch the narrowing.  This procedure seemed to be effective at first, however as I continued to grow the narrowing returned.  At the age of 12 the balloon angioplasty was performed again but unfortunately only provided short term success.

Finally at the age of 17 I underwent an operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital by surgeon Mr Laval to completely bypass the persistent narrowing within the aorta.  I now have an extra anatomical conduit which proved to be a complete success with my blood pressure remaining stable ever since that time.

Following a move to Dorset in 1999, my care was transferred from Great Ormond Street to the team of Adult Congenital Heart specialists at Southampton General Hospital .  I have received, without question, the most outstanding care from every single member of the team.  From the friendly staff who greet you at reception to the fantastic Cardiac Liaison Sisters, Registrars and Consultants.

Thanks to the support and close monitoring of the Adult congenital heart specialists I was recently able to enjoy a completely healthy pregnancy, with the team continually liaising with obstetric staff at my local hospital to ensure both myself and my baby were kept safe and healthy.

Baby CharlieI’m extremely pleased to report that I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy on the 28 September 2010 who weighed in at a healthy 7lbs 6ozs.  I’m extremely lucky to have a healthy baby with a healthy heart and thanks to Southampton Hospital , Charlie has a healthy Mummy.  We enjoy a full and happy life and due to the inspirational nurses I have encountered on my journey I will soon fulfil my dream of becoming a Nurse.  I am due to qualify in June this year and hope to make a difference to as many people as I can.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I do know that the closure of the heart unit at Southampton hospital will have devastating results for children in desperate need of specialist care and adult congenital heart patients who require continuous monitoring for life.

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