Peter RCH Patient

Peter’s rush of blood

Surgery fix for artery condition

After an early life filled with heartbreak, there’s no holding back Peter now.

Born with a rare congenital heart defect in the Solomon ­Islands, the seven-year-old has endured his fair share of challenges.

But he’s back on his feet and raring to go thanks to surgeons at the Royal Children’s Hospital.

Before his surgery a month ago, the Braybrook schoolboy needed frequent rests while playing or running.

“Now I have to tell him to stop running around,” said his dad, also called Peter.

“I have to tell him, ‘Slow down a bit! Wait until you heal properly.”

Peter was born in an emergency caesarean and struggled immediately.

“His fingers and lips turned purple due to lack of adequate oxygen in the blood,” Mr Sidi said.

He needed surgery, but the Solomon Islands lacked the medical expertise and facilities.

Peter was born with a condition called congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries, which means the heart’s ventricles and vessels are reversed.

“We had to search around and find places for him to have surgery, and we went to India for his first surgery when he was nine months old, a temporary fix,” Mr Sidi said.

“Then he went back to the Solomons.

“The doctors advised us as he’s growing up, his body will need more oxygen, and he had to do another surgery as the oxygen level goes down.

“The second surgery was in 2019 in Fiji, which has a relationship with doctors in India.

“The same thing – because he was still growing they said he needs another surgery.”

When Peter was just two years old, he suffered heartbreak when his mother died in the Solomon Islands.

Mr Sidi, who was working and living in Australia by then, brought his two children from the Solomons to live with him in Australia in 2021 after Covid-related delays.

“That’s when we started to get the ball rolling about his heart condition and our GP directed us to go to the Royal Children’s Hospital,” Mr Sidi said.

Peter’s RCH cardiac surgeon, Ben Davies, said the heart condition would have had devastating consequences if not first treated soon after birth.

“Without the first operation, he just would simply have died because he wouldn’t have been able to put oxygen into his bloodstream,” he said.

Dr Davies built on the foundations of the two previous surgeries to do a Fontan operation, allowing oxygen-poor blood from Peter’s body to ­bypass his heart and return to his lungs.

“Having had the operation, he can have every expectation of a longer and happier life,” Dr Davies said.

“And Peter’s a very, very positive child. He’s done really well, and he’s also had to cope with his mother dying, and he’s had to cope with changing country.

“He’s a brilliant bubbly little boy. He’s both stoical and positive at the same time.”

Peter’s successful open-heart surgery is a huge relief for his dad, who always feared for his son’s health.

“I was really very worried about him,” Mr Sidi said.

“Since birth I searched and I went halfway around the world trying to save him, so now I’m very happy and I’m confident that he will grow up to be an adult.

“I wish I could do more for the hospital, so thank you.”

Written by Jen kelly
Photos by David Caird
Published in the Herald Sun 23rd March 2024

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