14 July 2023

Mia’s 10-mile Cornwall coast trek for paediatric cardiology

Ten-year-old Mia Wells is walking 10 miles along the Cornwall coast for Southampton Hospitals Charity to thank the E1 ocean ward for saving her life in 2018. Diagnosed with a heart murmur, she required open heart surgery at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

Mum, Hannah, says: “At the time we lived in Buckinghamshire.

In 2013 when my daughter Mia was only nine months old, she developed a nasty cough. We took her to our local GP where he heard a significant heart murmur.

We were referred to Oxford Hospital’s Cardiology Department where tests and an echocardiogram showed she had a subaortic membrane, likely something she’d lived with since birth.”

A subaortic membrane is the most common type of congenital heart disease. It is a shelf-like membrane that forms under the aortic valve causing obstruction to the flow of blood from the left ventricle into the aorta, resulting in blood going through turbulence. A doctor hears this as a heart murmur.

“We were told at the time that the condition would require surgery down the line, but probably not until she was five or six years old.

We had yearly echocardiogram scans, as it was then a matter of monitoring the membrane, its effect on her heart, and the pressure of the blood being pumped out of the heart.

Not long after turning five, we were informed she would need to have the operation that year. That was when our appointments at Southampton Children’s Hospital started as they had a specialist surgical cardiac team to perform the operation.

We had a pre-op assessment with the surgeon a few days before the operation, and then in July 2018 she was admitted to hospital for open heart surgery.

After a tense five or six hours, we were told the surgery was successful. She spent the first 24 hours in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit before moving to the E1 ocean ward which specialised in caring for and treating paediatric cardiac patients.

She remained in hospital for a further five days before being discharged.

Thanks to the operation Mia now has a heart that functions normally, and she has no symptoms, although her heart will be monitored for the rest of her life by our local hospital.

Mia is a super sporty girl. She plays football for Troon Sharks under 10’s team, swims regularly, enjoys running the occasional parkrun, loves netball and just about any other sport she gets to play!

You wouldn’t know she had such a big operation when she was younger. It is amazing and we are so thankful to everyone involved in her care as they certainly left a lasting impression on her!”

Mia continues, “I have wanted to become a nurse since having my operation because the nurses treated me so well. Hospitals can be a bit boring, but the nurses always made me laugh before going to bed! I always fell asleep with a big smile on my face, even if I wasn’t feeling very well!

I think being a nurse is not just about the medical side of things, but also about making patients feel happy and comfortable that they are in a safe and friendly environment with people who care for them.

I am so thankful to the nurses on Ocean Ward for their kindness to me.

Mia’s challenge!

We now live in Camborne in Cornwall by the coast. It is such a beautiful part of the country, so my family and I decided to walk 10 miles for Southampton Hospitals Charity as I turned 10 earlier this year.

It is going to be a really fun challenge because of where we live, and as well as my dad, Colin, mum, and brother Caleb, 8, and sister, Keziah, 3, we have a couple of my friends walking bits of the course with us.

Hopefully, we will raise lots of money and I hope this inspires some other children who have been through similar experiences to me!”

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