Brave Wyatt's battle with heart disease: 'He was our miracle baby'

·Features and Health Editor
·5-min read

When Queensland mum Jessica Osborne finally fell pregnant through IVF she and husband Gregory were overjoyed. But things quickly took a turn when they received some shocking news during their 20-week scan, with doctors telling them their little baby boy Wyatt had a heart defect and was unlikely to survive.

"He was our miracle baby," Jess tells Yahoo Lifestyle. "We went for our scan to find out if we were having a boy or girl and that's when we found out. We knew from the sonographer's reaction, I suppose they couldn't say anything, but they told us 'you're going have to go and see your doctor'."

Jessica and Gregory with baby wyatt heart disease
Jessica and Gregory fell pregnant through IVF only to find out their little boy had a heart disease. Photo: Supplied

From that moment on the parents from Townsville decided they would do everything they could to fight for their miracle baby, who, if he survived, would face a life with congenital heart disease.

"I must admit I was on the floor crying nearly every medical appointment we had," Jess recalls.

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Eight babies are born with CHD every day in Australia and sadly four lives are lost on average each week. Right now, there is no cure.

'We can fix it'

Willing to do whatever it took, the parents travelled to Brisbane to meet Dr Alex Gooi, a Paediatric & Fetal Cardiologist/Echocardiologist, who said four words that gave them hope.

"This year is first year that we've actually got a kids cardiac team that's going to be based here in our region, but we had to go to Brisbane," Jess says.

"We flew there for the first time at 23 weeks. To hear [that he wouldn't make it] we weren't going to give up and. So when we went to Brisbane and they said we just need to get him a bit bigger and Dr Gooi said 'we can fix that'.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

"With those four words he just changed our world. So I just focused on keeping him in my belly long enough."

When Wyatt was born things happened very quickly. Jess says they had hoped he would be born at two kilos, but instead he weighed only 1065 grams.

His official diagnosis is Tetrology of Fallot with right aortic arch.

"So they couldn't do surgery straightaway but he was handling breathing by himself," Jess says.

Once he got a little bigger Wyatt had his first surgery - for an inguinal hernia - followed by his first heart surgery at 1.1kg.

10 surgeries with more to come

His parents remained in Brisbane and Wyatt in hospital for five months before they were able to bring their son home for the first time. But he ended up back in hospital for another seven surgeries before returning home again over a year after he was first born.

All up Wyatt has endured over 10 surgeries with more to come.

Due to the many surgeries he developed a food aversion and tracheomalacia and was on a feeding tube and oxygen up until he was two and a half.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Wyatt the fighter

Jess praises the support they received from Heartkids, Ronald McDonald House and friends and family for helping the new parents get through what was a difficult time.

"Without the support of Heartkids we would have been alone in a major city with no support. Heartkids not only supported us in the dark times but celebrated with us on the milestones," she says.

"It was hard, juggling not having family around for support. When you have a newborn baby normally you just get that moment where you can gaze at them and focus on them, whereas when we had Wyatt, he was rushed straight up to NICU and you know, he came with attachments. Then even when we came home, we came home with oxygen and a feeding tube."

Wyatt has one of the longest heart beads in Australia for his age measuring 6.2m long. Each distinctive bead represents a specific challenge, procedure, or treatment that children with CHD have endured.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

"The heart beads for us, are a sign of showing how strong he is, not so much saying how much he's endured, but how much he succeeded and what he's gone through," Jess says.

"He's so proud of them. So it's like a sense of an achievement and he loves telling you what they mean."

Support Sweetheart Day

Jess and Gregory are sharing their son's story in the lead up to Sweetheart Day on February 14.

Now in its 7th Year, Sweetheart Day (or Show Your Heart) is HeartKid's flagship campaign with the primary aim of raising funds and much-needed awareness of congenital and childhood acquired heart disease.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Now aged 10, Wyatt is doing well. Because he was born premmie, Jess says he struggles to gain weight but it means that his heart doesn't have to work as hard to support his body.

"He does have a severely leaking pulmonary valve so he will need a valve replacement in the next 2 years," she says, adding they have check ups every six months with their medical team in Brisbane, as well as access to the new local North Queensland team.

"He's a big personality. He he's very, very happy, very cheerful. And we've been very blessed. He's stubborn. He's resilient. He's a typical 10 year old kid.

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

"With congenital heart disease at this stage he is never going to be fixed, so there's always monitoring and making sure his other organs are functioning well, and they're getting enough oxygen.

"But we're very lucky. Wyatt is so thankful, he calls his medical team miracle workers, and he knows everyone by name he hugs them all when he visits."

This Sweetheart Day HeartKids encourages individuals to purchase a special $5 heart beads bracelet to help support families impacted by CHD. Buy yours here.

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