Getting the best for Fletcher

Getting the best for Fletcher

Baby boy with mum, surrounded by nurses

At five months old, Fletcher has undergone as many surgeries as he has months lived. For first time parents, Georgia and Angus, it’s been a whirlwind introduction to parenthood.

When Georgia was 21 weeks pregnant, routine testing picked up an abnormality in her baby’s heart. This was soon identified as a condition known as severe aortic stenosis.

Congenital aortic stenosis is a heart condition where the aorta – the main and largest valve controlling blood flow from the heart to the body – is too small or narrow.

In severe cases, it prevents blood from flowing through the body properly, requiring surgical intervention within the first few days of a baby’s life. This was the case for Fletcher.

Within 24 hours of being born, Fletcher was transferred to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead (CHW) to undergo his first surgery – a cardiac catheterisation to open the narrowed artery in his heart.

Due to the complexity of his condition, Fletcher was back in surgery just nine days later for open heart surgery – a major operation to help correct his defect and enable blood to flow normally through his heart.

Thankfully, this surgery was successful, and after close care and monitoring in CHW’s Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), Fletcher was moved to the Edgar Stephen Ward, a place that soon became like a second home.

Here, the team provided specialised cardiac care to support Fletcher and his family in his recovery.

“We’ve formed a really lovely relationship with the team on Edgar Stephens Ward,” Georgia said.

Fletcher being held by the nurses

“The nurses love Fletcher and even came and checked on us when we were in the PICU. I always know Fletcher is in a safe pair of hands with them - they don’t just want to help as medical professionals, but as if you’re at home and they’re family and friends.”

With the support of his multidisciplinary care team, loving family and resilient spirit, Fletcher was well enough to go home for the first time at seven weeks old.

Fletcher spent five weeks at home before coming back into hospital for his second open heart surgery, the Norwood procedure.

This highly specialised surgery is the first of a series of open-heart procedures performed over several years for children born with congenital heart defects. The staged reconstruction reconfigures the heart and circulatory system and improve the heart’s function and delivery of oxygen to the body.

In what Georgia describes as typical Fletcher style, the surgery was performed on the same day as his parents’ two-year wedding anniversary.

Fletcher smiling at camera, held by mum

Thankfully, it went well and after another several weeks in the PICU, Fletcher is now back on Edgar Stephen Ward, where his favourite nurses are supporting his recovery and helping to make sure he is big and strong before going home.

Georgia says she and Angus are thankful to have a world-class team surrounding them.

“You really have a village when you’re in the hospital. Fletcher has a family of medical people around him who want to help him not only get better but thrive. They want the best for you and go above and beyond to make that happen,” Georgia said.

While it’s been a challenging start to life, Georgia and Angus hope to be able to take Fletcher home in the next few weeks and can’t wait to settle into home life as a family of three.