Overcoming Childhood Heart Disease

FAMILY AFFAIR: Lexie Morris with her daughter Audrey, 2, and new born twins, Poppy and Harriet.
FAMILY AFFAIR: Lexie Morris with her daughter Audrey, 2, and new born twins, Poppy and Harriet.

Eight children are born every day in Australia with a heart defect and on February 2, 2018, Lexie and her daughter Harriet – a newborn twin – became apart of the statistic.

Born with a ventricular septal defect, Harriet was left with a significant hole in the wall between her heart's lower chambers.

At two weeks old she was transferred from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide to the Port Augusta Hospital where she started to decline.

Her symptoms became worse and at four weeks old, the decision was made that Harriet would need surgery.

“Initially we thought everything would be okay, she seemed perfectly normal,” Lexie explained.

“Then she started to deteriorate … watching her in an isolette was pretty scary.

“We would go and see her and her chest would be going up and down she was just struggling to maintain her breathing.”

When she was just seven weeks old, Harriet underwent a grueling five hour surgery in the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.

Although terrified, Lexie and her husband Ryan felt a strange sense of relief.

“It's always going to be a concern when your seven week old baby is put on bypass and they do open heart surgery, but it needed to be done,” Lexie said.

“The surgeon was so confident and reassured us that this is what they do, this is their bread and butter.”

While in Melbourne awaiting Harriet’s surgery, Lexie attended a Heartkids morning tea.

Aside from receiving support from mothers who had been through the same thing, she was also put in touch with someone who was able to provide them with free accommodation when they were struggling to find somewhere to stay. 

“The morning tea was a real eye opener,” she said. “I came away from that thinking we are so lucky because there are people who have been in hospital for months and months, even years.”

The surgery was a success and after spending the first few months of the twins’ lives back and forth in hospital, Lexie is just happy to be home and parenting in her pajamas for a change.  

The family are looking forward to spending their first Mothers Day together.