A BRAVE baby boy who died after he was born with half a heart has inspired his parents to help save the lives of other children.
Baby Theo George Rachel, of Worcester, described as “a little warrior” by his dad, was just three months old when he died at A&E at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester. He had a condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which prevents the left-hand side of his heart from developing properly.
As soon as Theo was born on November 2 last year at Birmingham Women’s Hospital his life was a fight for survival.
Just two days later he had a nine-hour operation to help the right-hand side of his heart do the job of both sides. He later needed a second round of open heart surgery to survive.
His parents say he received superb care in Birmingham Children’s Hospital in both paediatric intensive care and ward 11 before he was allowed to come home full-time on January 15.
Theo was breathing on his own after medical staff carefully weaned him off drugs and breathing apparatus. When he was home his parents became concerned and took him to Worcestershire Royal Hospital, where he died on February 5 after medics spent 25 minutes trying to restart his heart.
His funeral, attended by between 70 and 80 family and friends, took place on Friday, February 15, at St Bartholomew’s Church in Holmer, near Hereford, and he was buried in the children’s garden at Hereford Crematorium with a Worcester Warriors blanket and a Warriors teddy bear called Warren.
His parents Dave and Beverley Rachel, of Warn-don Villages, Worcester, want his fight to help inspire people to help other children like Theo. Many learned of his struggle through an online diary on Facebook which recorded the couple’s “rollercoaster” of raw emotion.
Mr Rachel, a 48-year-old account manager for BT, said: “You don’t expect it to happen to you. People seem to be reflecting on their own lives a bit more because of Theo.
“A lot of people seem to have been changed by Theo’s struggle. He was a fighter but I’m sure he looked at me once as if to say ‘let me go’.
“The hardest thing was when I saw his little coffin and I carried it into the church. It is a sad story but hopefully some good can come out of it.”
The couple have already raised £2,850 for Birming-ham Children’s Hospital Charities via their just giving page with a series of fund-raisers still to come, which they hope can raise money for both the hospital charities and Ronald McDonald House, where they both stayed during Theo’s care.
Mrs Rachel, aged 43, who could not even hold her son until more than three weeks after he was born, said: “You never know when you’re going to need either facility (Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House). You do not expect it to happen. We look back now and realise just how poorly he was. The staff at the hospital were amazing. It is also priceless what they give at Ronald McDonald House.”
Part of the reason for the success of the campaign was that Theo’s parents kept people informed of Theo’s progress on the social networking site, which has not only provided Mr Rachel with a means of coping and “venting his spleen” but has allowed the couple to keep in touch with family and friends, some of whom live in Canada, Australia and Spain. Mr Rachel’s sister, Sue Richards, even came over from Montreal on January 4 for a surprise visit. Through Facebook they received both messages of support and condolence, which has helped keep them going.