Save the life of baby Harley Watts: Parents' plea to world’s top heart surgeons
THE parents of a four-month-old baby with a rare heart condition have begged the world's top surgeons: "Save our son's life."
Leanne Hearn and Martin Watts have been told doctors at Leeds General Infirmary are unable to help their son, Harley, who was born with supravalvar aortic stenosis.
Now, some of the world's most skilled and respected heart surgeons will be asked to help the boy during a conference in Hamburg, Germany, next week.
Leanne, 33, said: "Our world collapsed when we were told the doctors could not do anything for Harley. We are just praying someone else can help him."
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Leanne and her partner, who was recently made redundant from a construction firm, have been told doctors will use their son as a case study.
She said: "The doctor at Leeds General Infirmary will bring up Harley's case at the conference.
"We hope it will provide answers."
Harley's second cousin, Freddie Selby, now 4, was diagnosed with the same condition, which narrows the heart valves, three years ago.
Doctors gave him just six months to live but he has confounded medical opinion by being able to start Stepney Primary School last September.
Both Harley and Freddie also have bilateral pulmonary artery hypoplasia, another condition affecting the heart valves.
However, it is understood Freddie's conditions are more severe than Harley's.
Leanne, who lives with her family in Beverley, said: "I have spoken to my cousin, Kirsty, and she has been great.
"She has been telling us to remain positive and enjoy time spent with Harley. Kirsty has made us both feel a lot more positive about the future.
"The fact Freddie is still here has given us all strength."
Leanne, who is also mum to Jordan, 15, Kierra, 12, Jack, 3, and Tommy, 2, has been told the conditions, although incredibly rare, are genetic.
Both Leanne and her daughter were born with pulmonary stenosis – less severe narrowing of the heart valves – but they have no long- lasting symptoms.
Freddie's sister, Amelia, 11, was born with both conditions and had a life-saving operation aged 3.
Kirsty's dad Graham Selby died last March from the conditions. He was 60. Graham had surgery when he was aged 21 and, at that time, was not expected to live much longer.
The parents of Freddie and Harley have been told their conditions are too complex for surgery to be a success.
Kirsty, who lives with Freddie and Amelia in west Hull, says she had not seen Leanne for more than 30 years before her cousin got in contact after Freddie's story was featured in the Mail.
She said: "It was a bit of a shock when I had a message to call Leanne. She is so nice and I'm doing everything I can to support her and her family.
"I know I am putting myself on the line saying this, but I feel so positive about Harley. His condition is milder than Freddie's.
"Freddie should give them hope for Harley.
"He is suffering from a chest infection at the moment but, only the other day, the doctor said how well he was looking.
"In fact, the day I took him to the doctor about his chest infection his school was holding its annual sports day.
"I told Freddie he couldn't do it, because he was poorly, but he screamed, 'I want to do it'.
"I let him and he had a great time.
"He came first in pretty much everything."
Kirsty says she is determined to remain positive while still being realistic about the long-term prognosis.
She said: "If the worst happens, there will be plenty of time to grieve for Freddie.
"But that time has not come. Now, I have a little boy who just wants fun.
"Of course, there are problems. Children with heart problems tend to suffer more when they are ill with infections.
"But I am determined to stay positive and I have told Leanne and Martin to try to do the same.
"I hope it is helping them."
Leanne said: "Our family and friends have been great. I don't know how we would be able to cope without them."