Story By Claire Elliot
LITTLE Hannah Erskine was not expected to live for 24 hours after she was born with major heart complications.
Now the toddler is to take part in a 10k walk in aid of the hospital that saved her.
The brave three-year-old was born with the main arteries in her heart swapped and a rare and potentially life-threatening infection that she picked up in her mother’s womb.
First-time parents Gillian and William were over the moon when their little girl arrived, but just seconds later the newborn turned blue and was fighting for breath.
She was so sick doctors warned the couple, from Inverkip, near Glasgow, that they did not expect their daughter to survive.
She needed life-saving hypothermia treatment, where medics cooled her body temperature to just 32C to prevent damage caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain.
She also battled countless complications, five weeks on a ventilator, and four major surgeries - the first at just one day old.
But against all odds, Hannah is now like any healthy, active toddler.
And to thank the hospital and the “hero” surgeon who saved her, in April she will join family and friends by taking part in the Kiltwalk’s Glasgow Wee Walk to raise money for Yorkhill Children’s Charity.
Mrs Erskine, 36, said: “She’s a great wee walker and if she gets tired on the walk we can put her on our shoulders. There will be enough family there, I’m sure she’ll get there in the end.
“To look at her you wouldn’t know
there had been anything wrong.
She looks completely healthy.
“She’s such a fighter and so
strong-willed and I think that’s
why she’s here, at the end of the
“But we can never repay everyone
at Yorkhill for saving her life.”
Hannah was born at the Royal
Alexandra Hospital in Paisley on
June 27, 2010, weighing a
healthy 8lb 5oz
Mrs Erskine got to hold her
briefly after she arrived, but
Hannah made only the faintest
of sounds and started to turn blue.
She was then whisked away to intensive care where she was hooked up to a ventilator.
Doctors at Paisley, who thought she had swallowed potentially deadly fluids in the womb, managed to keep Hannah alive until she could be transferred to Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in Glasgow for specialist care.
But as the neonatal ambulances in the area were all being used, she had to wait for one to arrive from 40 miles away in Edinburgh.
She was nine hours old when she arrived at Yorkhill, where tests confirmed she had transposition of the great arteries.
The condition meant the main arteries were swapped, starving her body of oxygen.
Mrs Erskine, a teacher, said: “It was devastating. When she was born we were expecting this perfect baby. But when she didn’t make a proper cry it was just a tiny noise, I just panicked.
“I was distraught. I was in my own room and my baby wasn’t with me - she wasn’t even in the same hospital.
“At my 20 week scan she was lying the wrong way so I was called back so they could check her heart and we were told it was normal so we just assumed everything was fine.
“We even joked, at least we know the heart’s ok.”
But at just a day old Hannah needed an emergency operation to create a hole in her heart to help her circulation.
The life-saving procedure is normally carried out by surgeons but as they were all in theatre, her consultant made the decision to carry it out on the ward.
Mrs Erskine said: “The procedure involved going through a vein in the groin to get to the heart. But she was so sick it was impossible for him to tell the difference between a vein and an artery and unfortunately he chose the artery.
“The artery collapsed and she had to have a graft of the artery to repair it. But this ultimately saved her life because if he hadn’t done it right then she wouldn’t have made it. Her consultant was just amazing.”
Doctors also confirmed she had a major infection, group B streptococcus, which affects just one in 2,000 babies, and warned that Hannah might not survive her first night.
The bacteria is found in one in three women and normally has no affect on babies but on rare occasions mothers can pass it on to their unborn child.
Mrs Erskine said: “I was discharged from Paisley that evening and I went straight to Yorkhill and almost immediately a team of medics - there was about five of them – explained to us how ill our daughter was and that they didn’t know if she was going to make it.
“It was just a complete rollercoaster. There were so many ups and downs. Sometimes she would seem to be doing fine, and then the next our world was turned upside down because she had crashed.
“She was attached to hundreds of wires and machines. It was like a God send every time a machine was taken off her because it was a step closer to her getting better.”
However, she had to wait until she had battled the major infection before she could have her nine-hour open-heart surgery at two weeks old.
Following the operation, Hannah seemed to be doing well and at six weeks old she was finally allowed home.
But the family’s joy was short-lived.
Hannah was home for just one hour when she had to be rushed back into hospital for emergency surgery that night to have part of her bowel removed.
Mrs Erskine said:” It was hurdle after hurdle.
“It was hard to stay positive but we had a lot of support from the hospital staff and our families."
Mrs Erskine hailed her surgeon, Mark Danton, a “life saver” and a “hero”, adding: “We can never repay everyone at Yorkhill for saving her life.
“They were just wonderful and so dedicated. We can’t thank them enough.”
Hannah spent two months clinging to life in Yorkhill before she was finally allowed home for good.
And since that day her family has never looked back.
Mrs Erskine said: “It was a dream come true when we finally got her home. We were just over the moon. It was great waking up each day and getting a cuddle from my daughter and being able to do normal things that families do.”
And when she attended her daughter’s nursery nativity last month, it was a moment she never thought would happen.
Mrs Erskine, said: “I was sitting watching her with a lump in my throat bursting with pride.
“When you are standing beside her hospital bed you don’t envisage seeing the next day, never mind a few years down the line. But there she was, standing on the stage as an Angel, doing all the actions. She was just fantastic.
“We’re lucky we had such a happy ending,” said Mrs Erskine. “We are very fortunate and feel so blessed and thankful every day to Yorkhill and
Hannah just after her open heart surgery at two weeks