Saved ‘by strength of a mother’s love’
A desperately ill mother made a ‘miraculous’ recovery after her failing heart started beating again when her baby son was placed next to her hospital bed.
IT was the moment a baby helped mend his mother’s broken heart. New mum Holli Cheung, 36, was fighting for her life in hospital after being struck down by a rare virus, myocarditis.
The Bucks mum had suffered a cardiac arrest and nurses performed CPR for 45 minutes as they battled to save her life.
Holli was put on a machine which took over her heart and lung functions and helped it beat. As she battled to stay alive, medics considered giving her a heart transplant.
But when husband Jason left their threemonth-old son Jordan sleeping next to desperately ill Holli, something magical happened – her heart began beating independently again.
“I don’t know whether it was a miracle, but some of the nurses certainly thought it was,” said the now recovered mum, who works as a marketing manager.
“Other people say it was the strength of a mother’s love, but I know Jordan became my sole reason to get better.
“I knew I had to take steps, however little they were, to get better.”
It was on New Year’s Day that Holli visited her doctor after fainting at home in Aylesbury. She was reassured she was just tired after sleepless nights from looking after her then three-month-old baby boy.
“I was advised to go home to rest,” recalls Holli. “Just an hour later, as I held my baby on my lap, I passed out and Jordan rolled off my lap on to the floor.
“The next thing I knew I was surrounded by paramedics along with my husband Jason and was on a stretcher on my way to hospital.”
Holli woke hours later to discover she had been transferredt f df from h her home, in Aylesbury, to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, and was suffering major heart failure. It had been caused by the crippling virus, myocarditis, which had attacked her body.
After she suffered a cardiac arrest at the hospital doctors used the specialist machine to take over the function of her heart and lungs.
“I felt like I was in a dream and everything was just a blur,” said Holli.
“I have little flashbacks and I can remember my family coming in to hold my arms.
“After a few days I woke up and asked for a pen so I could write things down to communicate, as I couldn’t speak.
“It was terrifying. I couldn’t believe this was my life.
“Being away from my son was gut-wrenching. Before, I had been there for him 24/7 and I had been breastfeeding him.
“Not being able to pick him up, soothe him, change him or feed him was like a pain I can’t describe.
“To help me, family and friends printed photos of Jordan and put posters up all over my room. It became like a shrine and we all started to call the room, the ‘Jordan Suite’.”
As doctors grew more concerned that Holli’s heart would never recover, they discussed the possibility of a heart transplant.
After ten days on the machine, a donor team came to talk through her options and even put the mum on a transplant list as a precaution.
Then, in a bid to lift her spirits,i it babybb JordanJ d was brought in to the unit and was allowed to sleep alongside his mum for a couple of hours.
That night her heart miraculously started to beat again.
“I think that for whatever reason he woke up my heart,’’ she said.
“I have no idea what happened that night when Jordan slept beside me. All I know is that when the doctors and consultants came on their ward rounds the next day, they were astonished to see my heart beating.
“After that night, slowly but surely, my heart got a little stronger and I started to recover.”
After two weeks the heart machine was removed and the organ was strong enough to function on its own again.
“My baby saved me, there’s no doubt about that,’’ said Holli.
“He kept me fighting and he made me stronger and determined to get better and he helped me recover.”
Now, three months after leaving the hospital, Holli is raising money for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
She said: “I, alongside family, friends and staff at the QE, will take part in the Birmingham Color Run to raise money for the hospital’s critical care unit where I was treated.
“Without the great staff at the QE, my husband, my family and my darling baby, I wouldn’t be here today.
“This is my way of thanking each and every one of them – because I owe them my life.”
The Color Run takes place on August 15 in the Birmingham NEC. To sponsor Holli and her team visit www.justgiving.com/HolliCheung.
I don’t know whether it was a miracle, but some of the nurses certainly thought it was”
LITTLE SAVIOUR: Holli Cheung with son Jordan and husband Jason at home in Aylesbury; (left) Holli in hospital with Jordan working his magic