IT is with some justification that 28-year-old mother-of-two Hayley Bates can refer to her son Junaid as her ‘little miracle boy’.
The spine-tingling scar on two-year-old’s chest acts as a permanent reminder to the open heart surgery he underwent just hours being born birth.
Junaid has gone under the knife no fewer than three times, and suffered a heart attack and catastrophic brain damage since he was born in February 2011.
He was diagnosed with critical aortic stenosis - a dangerous narrowing of his aortic heart valves - and now requires care from his doting mother 24 hours a day.
Hayley, a full-time carer for Junaid, and mother to nine-year-old Yasmin, told her story to the Mail as part of Congenital Heart Defect Week, which will run until Friday.
In February 2011, when she was 33-weeks pregnant with Junaid, Hayley was induced after a routine scan revealed a cause for concern; an enlarged left side of his heart.
Junaid survived the surgery, but he returned to the operating theatre five weeks later after he suffered heart failure. Again, Junaid survived only to suffer a heart attack the next morning.
It was at this point the mother-of-two, who lives in, Burton, was told to prepare for the worst.
“All of his organs were failing,” said Hayley. “We were told he only had a 50-50 chance of surviving the surgery.
“Then after the cardiac arrest I was told he would not last the night.
“It was terrifying but you have to get on with it for the sake of the children.”
The next morning though, Junaid, still barely two months old, had pulled through.
“His heart was still not working properly, but there was an improvement,” Hayley said.
Another three months in intensive care in Birmingham Children’s Hospital followed. Here, Junaid became one of only three children to undergo the life-saving Ross-Kono procedure as surgeons attempted to repair his aortic and pulmonary valves.
Judaid remained stabled until June when he was again rushed to intensive care after he stopped breathing and Hayley was told he needed a heart transplant.
Although it was later decided Junaid no longer needed the transplant, in November 2011 he suffered what doctors described as catastrophic brain damage after he stopped breathing.
Hayley said: “He was given a pretty poor outlook. We were told he was blind and had no quality of life.”
But Junaid has not only defied the odds stacked against him by surviving, he has not returned to hospital since, except for checkups.
Hayley said “That used to be every three months but now it’s only every six.
“He still can’t walk or sit up and because of his issues he has a tube from a feeding tube in his stomach.
“But at the moment he is one of the happiest children you would every meet.”
From a medical perspective, Junaid is now stable, although he requires 13 different medications up to four times a day.
Hayley said she is uncertain about what the long-term future for her ‘little miracle boy’ holds.
But she added she is currently looking at special schools which can cater for his needs.
Hayley said: “It’s a case of wait and see. We are having trouble getting him into a suitable school because they are not trained.
“At the moment he should be going to nursery but we can’t get him in a suitable environment for his needs.”
Hayley said that Junaid’s health, like a lot of children who have suffered serious heart conditions, can rapidly deteriorate if he catches even minor illnesses like a cough or cold.
She said: “I don’t know how it’s going to affect him as he gets older. Some children with his condition go and do normal activities but I don’t think that’s going to happen, we just do not know.
“And with all children, he can go downhill rapidly. If he becomes ill that can put a strain on his heart.”
But Hayley said that whatever the long-term future for Junaid holds, he has already exceeded all expectations.
She said: “The doctors are shocked that he has done as well as he has. They are all shocked to see his progress given what his original diagnosis was.”
Hayley is also fund-raising for the Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Anyone who would like to make a donation can do so by visiting www.bch.org.uk/