Mum's skydive raises cash for 'angels' who operated on her 21-month-old son
THE relieved mum of a little boy who survived an operation to correct a rare heart condition is to skydive to raise money for the 'angels' who saved him.
Medics gave 21-month-old Ashley Smith a 50-50 chance of surviving a six-hour operation after he was diagnosed with Shone's Complex Syndrome.
He had blocked valves and numerous holes in his heart, which doctors likened to a pressure cooker.
But the operation was a success with Ashley out of hospital just 24 hours later.
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Now his 26-year-old mother Kelly James, from Penkhull, is determined to say thank you to the staff who looked after him during the terrifying ordeal, which began when Ashley became ill after a plane journey to Cyprus.
Kelly said: "He was really poorly, he had pulmonary hypertension, which we did not know about before the flight."
Ashley was diagnosed with the condition at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.
"He had a raging heart murmur," said Kelly. "Then it just went from bad to worse."
The family were referred to Birmingham Children's Hospital where surgeons from different countries had to decide whether to risk operating on Ashley.
After doctors decided to go ahead, Ashley had the operation, which involved cutting through his breastbone, in May.
Kelly said: "I thought he was going to die, I thought I was going to have to bury my child. The surgeon who operated on my son is an angel.
"After the surgery he came and said 'I made it look easy'."
Kelly was told Ashley's chest would be left open for up to three months after the operation..
She said: "First of all I had to see if my boy was alive." He came round within nine hours, was out of the hospital within 24, and sat up eating within 32.
Now Kelly is hoping to raise at least £1,500 for the hospital.
She said: "The service is out of this world. In the intensive care unit, they have one nurse per bed, one stood for hours tending to my son. They are amazing."
Kelly's fiancé, Jason Smith, aged 41, who works at JCB, plans to encourage his workmates to sponsor Kelly. He said: "I think she is quite brave because I wouldn't do it, but she likes that sort of thing and it is for a good cause – the hospital that saved our son's life."
The jump will take place on 23 February at 11am at Tilstock Airfield in Shropshire.