‘Charlie’s our wee fighter’

Baby Charlie with mum Emma, big sister Kitti, and dad Stuart, at their home in Ardbeg.
Baby Charlie with mum Emma, big sister Kitti, and dad Stuart, at their home in Ardbeg.

A baby born with a rare, life-threatening heart condition enjoyed his first Christmas on Bute after finally being allowed home from hospital.

Baby Charlie was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a condition where the left ventricle of the heart does not develop properly.

Mum, Emma Carpenter, and partner Stuart, moved to the island in 2015 after falling in love with Bute during a holiday.

She told us: “Just four days after moving here we were delighted to find out we were expecting a baby. He was born in April 2016 but started to struggle with his breathing after a couple of days. After some scans we were told the devastating news that Charlie only had half a working heart.”

To be given the best chance of surviving Charlie was flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital and had open heart surgery at just six days old.

Thankfully he sailed through his surgery and was transported to Glasgow Children’s Hospital three weeks later. Unfortunately a catalogue of setbacks including a wound infection and bronchitis meant he couldn’t go home and had to stay in the hospital for months with frequent stays in ICU.

Emma said: “These were horrifically worrying times for us and a few times we believed Charlie might not have made it, but he kept battling on like the wee fighter he is.

“We even gave him a middle name of Bhaltair which means strong fighter.”

By September Charlie was ready for the second of three open heart surgeries needed to correct the condition, and he returned to Birmingham.

While the operation was a success, Charlie suffered a number of complications including the accumulation of fluid around his lungs which required further surgery.

Finally, in November, he was allowed to come home for the first time ever, and just in time for Christmas, too.

Emma said: “He has gone through so much that we feel he has the right to be called a miracle baby and he is doing brilliantly now and thriving at home.

“After staying with family while all this went on his big sister, Kitti (9), finally came home too and we are enjoying getting back to some sort of normality on this beautiful island.

“Charlie already has his own little fan club here with people showing us so much love and support which is just fantastic.”

Charlie will have his third open heart surgery at around age four, and may possibly need a transplant in the future, but Emma says the family is taking it “one day at a time”.