Chorley mother raises £1,545 for defibrillator for nine-month-old daughter’s nursery only to be given one for free by North West Ambulance Service

A mum from Chorley whose nine-month-old daughter has a heart condition has won a campaign to have a defibrillator installed at her nursery with the help of the North West Ambulance Service.

Friday, 22nd October 2021, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd October 2021, 1:56 pm
Amie Harrison from Chorley with her nine-month-old daughter Ava who has a heart condition.

Lawyer Amie Harrison (29) whose daughter Ava attends the Nature Trail Railway Nursery in Euxton started campaigning last Friday with a GoFundMe page only to surpass her original target of £1,500 (the cost of a defibrillator) to £1,545 in a matter of days. In another twist of kind fate she was then informed by the North West Ambulance Service that they would donate and fit one for free.

Overwhelmed by the generosity of people, she said: “My fear at the start was people wouldn’t want to give to this cause. But within a few days we had made more than originally needed.”

Explaining how the North West Ambulance Service’s attention was drawn to her fundraising efforts, she added: “It came about over the weekend when my neighbour whose brother-in-law works for the Ambulance Service said they could donate one.”

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Nine-month-old Ava Harrison playing with her toys.

Ava, who is cared for in the baby room of the nursery, was born with a heart condition known as SVT – Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) - an arrhythmia or rapid heartbeat which lay undetected for six months.

A normal heartbeat is caused by an electrical impulse travelling through the heart. The electrical impulse originates in the sinus node, most often located in the top of the right atrium. The electrical signals travel through the heart tissue to the bottom chambers of the heart called the ventricles. The electrical impulse causes the top chambers (atria) and bottom chambers (ventricles) of the heart to beat regularly.

In SVT a series of early beats in the atria speeds up the heart rate. The rapid heartbeat (arrhythmia) does not allow the ventricles to fill with an adequate amount of blood, because an electrical signal is causing the heart to pump to fast.

The condition runs in the family as Amie’s father had a pacemaker fitted two years’ ago.

Reliving every parent’s worst nightmare when their child becomes sick and thrown into unchartered waters, Amie describes the night she had to take her daughter to A&E.

“She was born with it but we didn’t know until she was six month’s old.

“We found out via a home monitor. One night we put her to bed and it registered that she had 274 beats a minute heart rate. At first I thought it was an error but then I could feel she was vibrating so I took her to A&E.”

By the time Ava was put on a monitor her heart rate had reached 304. The hospital resolved this after administering four injections of a drug which essentially aims to block the abnormal impulses.

Amie added: “She is now under the care of Manchester Children’s Hospital Cardiology team. She was immediately put on beta blockers but more recently tests show that these have been causing her heart rate to now become significantly slow, so whilst we work out the correct dosage to find the correct balance it’s reassuring to know that whilst she is at nursery, the defibrillator is there.”

Whilst her condition is now managed by daily medication, Amie believes that every school should be fitted with a defibrillator.

“I personally think venues over a certain capacity should be made to buy one.

“The reality is that a cardiac arrest could affect each and every one of us. Less than one in 10 will survive one that occurs outside of a hospital setting.

“If CPR is performed that person’s chance of survival doubles. If a defibrillator is used that person’s chance of survival triples.

“Specific training is not a necessity for using one and it can also be used by the public.”

She will now use the money raised for the defibrillator to help other children’s heart charities across the north west.

Expressing her gratitude to all those who helped get the defibrillator, she said: “I would like to thank the North West Ambulance Service and the community as a whole.

“Also the nursery as she (Ava) has only just started and the support has just been incredible. They reassure me that she is in the best care, the North West Ambulance Service and the community as a whole.”

Delighted with the outcome, Nursery Manager Jessica McKnight added: “At Nature Trail we are committed to ensuring the best quality of care for all our children.

“This is why we took the opportunity of the fundraiser. We are amazed to have been donated a defibrillator so the money we have raised will be going to specific training for all staff in our setting and also donated to chosen charities that are special to Ava’s family.”

With a date yet to be secured within the next couple of weeks, the defibrillator will be installed on the outside of the nursery to benefit the children, their parents and the staff of the nursery, but also the wider community.