A BABY who was in urgent need of life-saving heart treatment before she reached three months, has undergone a 10-hour operation in the Philippines and is doing “fantastic”.
Xhabrina Fitzgerald who was born with a rare heart condition last November was given little chance of survival if she didn’t undergo corrective surgery.
Her father, Brian, who is from Dromin, outside Kilmallock, launched a nationwide appeal last month to raise enough funds to enable his daughter to have the life-saving treatment.
“Everything went well. It took 10 hours. There were no complications and everything is looking great,” Brian told the Leader this week.
“I’m over the moon – absolutely relieved that everything went so smooth,” he added.
Xhabrina was born with the condition d-transposition of the great arteries which means that her pulmonary artery and the aorta were in the wrong positions. A team of five surgeons including lead surgeon Dr Renante Gamponia carried out an arterial switch on Xhabrina at the Philippine Heart Centre in Manila last week.
The little girl who was born in Cebu in the Philippines is making a full recovery and was awake just 40 minutes after the operation.
“They said that she responded perfectly to everything during the surgery. There were no obstacles or complications and she can make a full recovery. She was awake 40 minutes after her surgery. They didn’t want her to be awake at such an early stage so they sedated her a little bit. She is taking bottles and feeding well. She is out of the ICU. All her lab results are perfect,” Brian explained.
Due to the nature of her condition, it was vital that Xhabrina had the surgery before she reached three months.
Without the surgery, Xhabrina wouldn’t have survived. “Oxygen depletion is what is caused by it – when the arteries are in the wrong place,” Brian explained.
“There are holes in the heart which are present at birth but which close by themselves at three months,” said Brian.
Brian’s wife Maricho – from the Philippines – is currently caring for Xhabrina and Brian hopes to see her as soon as is possible.
“Her mother is absolutely relieved. The 10 hours of the surgery were the most frightening. I was getting updates on the phone. We geared everything towards getting the surgery done before thinking about everything else. You still wouldn’t be right after it. There is such a release,” he said.
In order for the surgery to be carried out, €20,000 had to be raised.
A fundraiser was held in Bulgaden Castle and through a media campaign, donations came flooding in for from all over the country.
“We got over the half we needed - we needed to have just over half so that the surgery could go ahead. In total we raised about €16,000 over five weeks. The night in Bulgaden went well and then donations came from all over the country – Donegal to Dublin. People were ringing up to make donations. There were little notes, letters and get well wishes. I must say that they came from every single aspect of the life in Ireland today – all different nationalities,” said Brian.
A second fundraising night for Xhabrina takes place in the Hazel Tree in Mallow on Monday, February 25 to raise funds to cover the outstanding costs. People can also donate to the account Xhabrina Fitzgerald, acc 05726089, nsc 93-52-12, AIB kilmallock.