Hereford girl, 9, needs £25,000 to fix hole in her heart

A HEREFORD mum needs £25,000 to fix a hole in her nine-year-old daughter’s heart that is severely affecting her day-to-day life.

Becky Bailey has been told by doctors her daughter, Ava, needs open-heart surgery – but if she doesn’t pay £25,000 for it Ava faces more than a year of exhaustion and missed school time.

That’s why the Hereford Times is calling on its readers to support our campaign to fix Ava’s heart, so the nine-year-old can enjoy a life like her friends.

Mrs Bailey said the family’s lives are on hold until Ava is better, and it has been an incredibly emotional time for her and husband, Richard.

Hereford Times: Ava Bailey and her mum Becky at their Hereford home. Picture: Rob DaviesAva Bailey and her mum Becky at their Hereford home. Picture: Rob Davies

Her condition means Ava has missed a lot of time at school due to exhaustion, and some days she struggles to even get out of bed.

Even then, she has to rest in the afternoons. But her mother said she deserves a good quality of life now – a year after her diagnosis.

It was a long battle for a diagnosis, which came more than two years after Eva’s mum and dad, of Breinton Road, first thought there could be a problem.

Donate now to help Ava: bit.ly/HTAvaHeart

“The only reason we found out about this is because she was having repeat ear infections, something she is still plagued with,” Mrs Bailey, 38, said.

“We fought hard to have her seen. Her exhaustion was ridiculous, and at six I didn’t think it was right or normal.

“Thankfully, we ended up in front of a very good paediatrician who then diagnosed the heart murmur and ultimately got us in with the first cardiologist.”

The hole in Ava’s heart is now 27 millimetres. It has grown since it was first found, and keyhole surgery is not possible.

Mrs Bailey, who’s currently helping in the coronavirus vaccination programme, said the ordeal had been horrendous, and she wished it was herself who was unwell rather than Ava.

“We’ve told her what’s going to happen. She has a very close relationship with my auntie, and they talk about it a lot.

“I try to talk to her, and I asked her if she was frightened or worried about anything, and she just said ‘No, they need to fix me now, mummy, so we can have a day out without me getting tired and out of breath’. She shouldn’t feel like that at nine.”

Mrs Bailey said she was faced with the choice of an 18-month waiting list, or paying £25,000 for the operation – which would still be done in the NHS Birmingham Children’s Hospital – as doctors said it was only a routine procedure.

Hereford Times: Ava Bailey suffers from exhaustion as a result of her heart condition. Picture: Rob DaviesAva Bailey suffers from exhaustion as a result of her heart condition. Picture: Rob Davies

That’s why she is appealing for help to try to raise the money.

“The issue is if it’s going to be another 12 or 18 months, you don’t really want this hanging over her when she’s starting secondary school,” she said.

“It’s six weeks off school after this operation, and we can’t really allow that going into secondary school.

“She’s already missed so much time off school; we can’t let her miss much more really.”

Mrs Bailey also had fears Ava could be more at risk if she caught coronavirus, and left her job to home-school her during the pandemic.

Describing Ava as her little miracle, Mrs Bailey said: “Ava is a one-off. We tried for a long time to conceive and ended up having IVF. The whole process took years and when she finally arrived, we felt so blessed and on cloud nine.

“She’s the most caring, sensitive, happy little girl and this is overshadowing her life at the moment.”

Mrs Bailey said she has been overwhelmed with the response to her plea for help.

Coco-rella Wax Melts, White Horse Wills and Cotto are among the firms supporting the Hereford Times Fix Ava’s Heart appeal.

Donate now to help Ava: bit.ly/HTAvaHeart

Hereford Times