Jade Johnson was told she had just 10 years to live her dreams before heart surgery would mean facing increased risks to everyday life.
She drew up a bucket-list of things she wanted to do and, thanks to the extraordinary care at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals, Jade has now achieved her main aim to become a mum.
Jade, 24, a student nurse from Poulton, has Mitral Valve Disease. When she was 19 the valve was repaired but she was told that within 10 years she would need another major operation to fit a mechanical valve to her heart and have to take the blood-thinning drug warfarin for the rest of her life.
That will mean Jade will have to take great care because she will bruise easily and, if she cuts herself, it will take a long time to stop bleeding. Pregnancy or activities with any risk would be inadvisable on warfarin so Jade drew up a list of things she wanted to achieve to live her life to the full before she has the mechanical valve fitted.
Her bucket-list is being ticked off, including bathing with elephants, swimming with dolphins, and a hot air balloon ride, but for Jade and her partner Joshua Cooper, nothing can compare with the birth of her baby girl, Poppy.
“This really is my dream come true,” said Jade. “Because of the extra pressure pregnancy put on my heart the medical team at Blackpool Victoria Hospital decided to do an elective caesarean at 33 weeks and six days.
“I was put under the care of a cardiac pregnancy team and they developed my birthing and pregnancy plan. They were amazing. I had regular ECGs and echocardiograms and made to feel very confident and reassured.
“My midwife even got me to do skin-to-skin contact in the delivery theatre and I was taught to express milk for my baby. The care throughout my pregnancy and birth has been amazing and the medical treatment has been second to none,” Jade added.
Jade’s mum, Sarah Johnson, spoke of her joy and relief at Poppy’s arrival.
“Jade was diagnosed at 12 years of age with Mitral Valve Disease,” Sarah explained. “I was terrified, but she was brilliant. She was so strong and determined to take everything in her stride, she was an inspiration to us all.
“She drew up her list of things she wanted to do, and having a baby was right at the top. I was worried when she fell pregnant, both about Jade and the fact the baby would have to be born premature.
“But the outcome has been fabulous and they are both doing so well. Her story will hopefully give inspiration to any other mum-to-be in a similar situation.”
Poppy was born on February 16 and was cared for in the hospital’s neonatal unit until she put on enough weight to be discharged safely home.