Living proof: Sasha Dickson, with Scarlett, is urging people to support the Good Friday Appeal. Picture: Michael Copp Living proof: Sasha Dickson, with Scarlett, is urging people to support the Good Friday Appeal. Picture: Michael Copp
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SASHA Dickson is under no illusions. She knows that without the hard work of staff at the Royal Children’s Hospital, her daughter Scarlett would not be alive.

Scarlett, 7 months, spent the first six months of her life at the hospital after being born with severe cardiac problems.

At just six days old, and weighing less than two kilograms, Scarlett endured her first open heart surgery to have a narrow aorta repaired.

The surgery was a success, but doctors were unable to correct her mitral valve because the surgery was too complex and dangerous to perform on such a small baby.

When Scarlett was six weeks old, doctors decided it was time to repair the blocked and leaking valve.

The surgery bought her another six weeks, before the valve became progressively blocked and narrow. This time, doctors decided to replace it.

The surgery took more than 15 hours and Scarlett was returned to intensive care on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), to provide her with cardiac and respiratory support.

“We thought the other surgeries were bad . . . when she came back with her chest open we thought that was horrible, but seeing her on ECMO was scary,” Mrs Dickson said.

“When she was coming off ECMO all the nurses and doctors knew there was no going back and they came in to visit and give us hugs. It was like she was part of their family.”

Scarlett will need continuing heart surgeries, with doctors expecting her to require a valve replacement when she weighs 10 kilograms.

Mrs Dickson said everyone at the RCH had “just made the past six months easier for us”.

“We couldn’t have got through it without them. They are the most beautiful, wonderful people.”

Mrs Dickson said her family would never forget what the hospital’s staff had done for Scarlett.

“There was a time we thought we wouldn’t have her home.

“We are so lucky to live in Melbourne.”

To donate to the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, phone 9292 1166 or go to goodfridayappeal南京夜网.au

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