Medical marvel kept George alive before major heart op

George Slater
George Slater
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A horde of dinosaurs created a spectacle when they stomped through a quiet village. But it was all in a good cause, as they were raising money for a hospital cardiac unit which saved a youngster’s life. AASMA DAY finds out more.

To look at, George Slater is the picture of health and a normal, happy four-year-old who loves enjoying life.

A dinostomp held around Goosnargh Village to raise money for Alder Hey Hospital where George Slater had his lifesaving surgery

A dinostomp held around Goosnargh Village to raise money for Alder Hey Hospital where George Slater had his lifesaving surgery

But only months ago, George had to undergo major heart surgery to save his life after being born with a variety of cardiac problems.

George, who lives in Whittingham, near Preston, was just a few months old when his parents, Laura and Tim, 
became concerned after he failed to put on weight.

Hospital investigations revealed George’s pulmonary artery – leading from his heart to his lungs – was too big, being
 3cms wide instead of 1cm.

There was also too much pressure to George’s heart and lungs, making him breathless, as his body had to work extra hard, and he also had a hole in his heart.

Specialists told George’s family that he needed major heart operations, but that the risk of surgery would be a lot lower if they waited until he was bigger and stronger.

To keep him going until he was ready for the surgery, George was fitted with a medical marvel invented by a surgeon at Liverpool’s Alder Hey Hospital.

The device, called a FloWatch, was like a band around the artery to narrow it and relieve pressure.

The plastic band expanded in the same way as a rubber band and a remote control was used to adjust it as George grew.

Before this invention, George would have had to have surgery each time the band needed to be expanded, at least four or five operations before he was ready for the major heart surgery.

However, the FloWatch meant the band could be expanded in seconds just by putting a special remote control on George’s chest.

The temporary procedure did a great job of keeping George going and he developed as normal, having regular check-ups at Alder Hey to monitor his progress. An outreach nurse also visited him every few weeks to check his oxygen and blood levels.

George’s family were told last year that the time had come for him to undergo the major surgery and the 12 hour operation was a success.

Surgeons closed up the hole in George’s heart, tunnelled one of the arteries through the right ventricle and took the FloWatch off.

George has now recovered well from the surgery and is back to enjoying school life at Goosnargh Oliverson’s C of E Primary School.

The school and Ollie’s Nursery, which is attached to the school, wanted to do something to express their gratitude to Alder Hey for caring for George and saving his life and came up with the idea of the Dinosaur Stomp.

Helen Sant, headteacher at Goosnargh Oliverson’s, said: “Ollies Nursery is on our site and was the nursery that George and his brother, Jack, went to before coming to the school.

“Our reception class and the nursery children had both been doing a project about dinosaurs, so came up with the idea of doing a Dinosaur Stomp to raise money.

“The pupils and teachers came dressed as dinosaurs and paraded through the village doing a Dinosaur Stomp.

“George has been around school and nursery for a number of years and we knew how poorly he was, and knew he and his family received a lot of care, love and support from Alder Hey.

“The children raised money
through sponsorship for the Dinosaur Stomp and we were amazed to find they raised £1,206, which is a phenomenal amount from just reception and nursery.”

Reception teacher Nicola Horobin and Ollie’s manager
 Hayley Cornall said: “We are very proud of all the children who took part.

“It was a fantastic event, involving the whole community and for such a great cause.”

George’s mum, Laura, 36, said: “It is wonderful to hear how much money was raised by the Dinosaur Stomp, which was a fun way to raise money for an important cause.

“Alder Hey cardiac unit has very little funding at the moment, as all department’s funding is going towards the new Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, which is being built and is due to be completed next year.

“So we had to specifically donate it for the cardiac unit.

“The money is perhaps going towards a new portable echo machine or funding for information guides for parents of cardiac children about what to expect, surgery and complications, something which that we found very useful.”