A TELEVISION presenter says his baby daughter was saved from serious harm because a special heart scanner was quickly available at Salisbury District Hospital.
Now Alex Langlands, an archaeologist who lives near Laverstock and familiar face to viewers of TV shows Time Team and Victorian Farm, is backing a British Heart Foundation (BHF) campaign to raise £30,000 for an echo machine specifically for the children’s ward.
His newborn daughter Hazel was shown to have serious heart defects 10 months ago, diagnosed by the use of an echocardiogram machine at the hospital.
He and his wife Libby say they were lucky that an echo machine was on the children’s ward, because echocardiogram machine generally one has to be borrowed from the adult wards.
Hazel was in the Southampton children’s cardiac unit within two hours, where it was confirmed that she had a narrowed aorta – the main vessel for distributing blood to the body – along with serious heart abnormalities known as atrioventricular septal defect (AVSD).
She was stabilised and after a few days the narrowed aorta was operated on before any harm was done. A few months later, the AVSD was addressed with a seven-hour operation.
Mr Langlands, 36, who is landscape archaeologist at Winchester University, said: “We were very lucky. The echo machine just happened to be in the right place at the right time and we didn’t have to wait. A tragedy has been averted and she is effectively a healthy baby. The campaign for an echo machine is such a good one and I am hoping to do something to help.”
Mr Langlands’ sister Nicola was born with congenital heart defects and was Britain’s first heart and lung transplant patient to give birth naturally. She died last December, aged 37.
Nick Brown, the consultant paediatrician at Salisbury hospital who scanned Hazel, said: “About 300 to 400 scans are conducted each year and an echo machine is very badly needed. It would make a huge difference. It’s about speeding up waiting times.”
He said it was always possible to obtain an echo machine from the adult wards to scan a poorly child, but it was at the cost of some disruption.
He said the biggest improvement in having a children’s echo machine would be in the outpatient service. Routine waiting times can be as long as four months.
An echo machine will cost £50,000. The BHF aims to raise £30,000 and the remaining £20,000 has been pledged by the hospital’s Stars Appeal Caring 4 Kids fund.
Anyone wishing to donate should call 0121 661 51500 and quote Salisbury Children’s Echo Appeal.