Against The Odds: Miracle Baby Born With Rare Heart Disease Celebrates First Birthday

When baby Eiriana Mari James was born on April 2, 2015, her parents were warned that she only had an 80 percent chance of survival, due to a rare heart disease. However, against all odds the miracle baby has just celebrated her first birthday.

Eiriana was diagnosed with a rare form of congenital heart disease while she was still in her mother’s womb and was not expected to live to see her first birthday.

As reported by the Daily Express, despite the fact her mother was told at the age of 21 years that she would be unable to have children, Eiriana was born to her mother, Rhian Shellard, 35 and father, Gareth James in April last year and was reportedly one of a pair of twins. Sadly, the second baby died in the womb.

Reportedly, the miracle baby was born at St. Michael’s Hospital in Bristol and was very small, weighing just 4 pounds and 9 ounces.

Eriana is the first baby in Bristol, U.K., to offer from the rare heart condition known as “Truncus Arteriosus.” The condition is a rare type of heart disease in which a single blood vessel comes out of the right and left ventricles instead of the normal two vessels. Eriana had to undergo life-saving surgeries to survive.

After warning her concerned parents that Eiriana only had an 80 percent chance of survival, doctors initially went ahead with a grueling, seven-hour operation, aimed at reducing blood flow to her lungs and to help Eiriana survive until she was strong enough to undergo the full heart surgery.

The baby continued to recover once she was at home and in August 2015 underwent a successful and full heart repair surgery.

Fast forward to April 2016 and her thrilled parents, Rhian and Gareth got to throw a huge party to celebrate their daughter’s first birthday, an event they didn’t know they would ever see.


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Rhian told the U.K. media, “Eiriana was our little miracle. I was told at 21 years old that I would not be able to have children and we lost Eirina’s twin in the womb, so we had already been through a difficult time before we were told about Eirana’s diagnosis.”

Rhian went on to say that as a family they owe everything to the amazing work by doctors, surgeons and nurses at the Bristol Children’s Hospital, “especially the fantastic nurses on the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit who all made sure Eiriana had the best start in life despite her condition.”

She said, “Without these people our story would be very different.”

Describing her miracle baby to Wales Online, Rhian said, “She has a wicked personality and she’s always smiling.”

“It was a big milestone reaching her first birthday considering everything she’s been through.

Dr. Serban Stoic, baby Eiriana’s surgeon, said, “The whole cardiac team here at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children is delighted that Eiriana is doing well, despite the many challenges that she has already faced in her short life, and the challenges yet to come.”

The Bristol Royal Hospital for Children reportedly treats more than 850 children with various heart conditions each year.

[Photo via Flickr by Justin McGregor/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]