'Brave' six-month-old Pippa from Whiteley finally allowed home from University Hospital Southampton for first time after complex live-saving heart surgery

A BABY girl who underwent life-saving surgery so delicate surgeons had to practise on a 3D model of her heart has gone home to Whiteley for the first time, after spending her first six months in hospital.

‘Brave’ Pippa Fulton was born premature and weighing just 4.4lbs in August last year. She was immediately diagnosed with life-threatening problems in her intestines as well as a complex malformation of her heart and main blood vessels.

Her case was made even more complicated a by juxtaposition of the atriums - a rare anomaly of the heart’s collecting chambers - as well as a duplicate of the main vein inside Pippa’s upper body.

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Lizzie and Pippa Fulton from Whiteley with lead congenital cardiac surgeon Mr Viola

What was expected to be a short stay in hospital soon turned to months spent at Southampton Children’s Hospital when Pippa was found to have an additional heart defect, called total anomalous pulmonary vein drainage.

Pippa’s combination of heart problems has only been seen a handful of times worldwide but early attempts at surgery had to be postponed to allow her to grow bigger.

Mum Lizzie Fulton, 30, has been by her daughter’s side since her birth. She said: ‘It’s been a very long six months. Pippa has had lots of complications during her stay, from pneumonia to a collapsed lung – but she’s fought through and been unbelievably brave, and we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.’

Finally, Pippa reached a weight of 12lbs meaning surgery would be possible.

Pippa Fulton from Whiteley, who had to undergo lifesaving surgery that was so delicate surgeons had to make and practice on a 3D model of her heart, has gone home for the first time after spending the first six months of her life in University Hospital Southampton.

Using a CT scan the hospital printed a 3D model of her heart that not only highlighted a further problem they hadn’t been aware of, but allowed the surgical team to rehearse the complex surgery.

On January 27, Pippa spent more than seven hours in surgery and the structure and function of her heart was successfully repaired.

Pippa’s dad Nathan, 34, said: ‘Seeing our baby girl taken down for surgery was one of the longest and hardest days of our lives.

Pippa Fulton from Whiteley, who had to undergo lifesaving surgery that was so delicate surgeons had to make and practice on a 3D model of her heart, has gone home for the first time after spending the first six months of her life in University Hospital Southampton.

‘There was this real mix of emotions, from the fear of someone so precious and tiny undergoing open-heart surgery to complete relief that the operation we had been waiting six long months for was finally happening.’

Pippa left hospital on Saturday (Feb 19) and is now home in Whiteley with her mum and dad and their beloved dog, Peanut.

She will require oxygen treatment at home while her lungs continue to get stronger and will be monitored by the team at Southampton Children’s Hospital until she reaches adulthood.

Teacher Lizzie added: ‘It was unbelievably emotional. We had many conversations over the months about Pippa not making it this far with lots of unknown days, so to finally know that she now had a chance of survival and to now have brought her home at long last is incredible – we can be a family together at last.

Pippa, Lizzie and Nathan Fulton.

‘Nathan and I would like to thank everyone, from the bottom of our hearts, who has cared for Pippa.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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