Mum makes marathon effort ahead of baby’s sixth heart op

After she completes the Dublin mini-marathon today, Sylvia Skelton will prepare her baby daughter for critical cardiac treatment at Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

It will be Mary’s sixth operation — her first took place within hours of her birth “and saved her life”, said Sylvia from Navan, Co Meath.

Before she was born on Nov 11 last year, there was no indication that Mary had a life-threatening cardiac condition.

“Mary is our fourth child. When she was born she didn’t cry like my other babies. She gave a little yelp. The tip of her nose was cold and she was put in an incubator to warm her up,” said Sylvia.

When she next saw her, a short time later, her newborn daughter was surrounded by machines and doctors.

She was immediately transferred by ambulance from Mount Carmel Hospital to Crumlin Children’s Hospital where Sylvia and her husband Sylvie were given the devastating news that their daughter had been kept alive by a valve in her heart which naturally closes 24 hours after a baby is born.

“She was given medicine to keep that valve open and the following day she had major open-heart surgery. It was touch and go, she is very lucky to be alive. The care she got was second to none,” said Sylvia who is also mum to Juliette, 9, Kate, 5, and Matthew, 2.

Doctors diagnosed pulmonary atresia. This is where the pulmonary valve does not open and oxygen-poor blue blood cannot flow forward from the right ventricle to the lungs to get oxygenated.

Mary’s right ventricle is also very small. Doctors inserted a synthetic shunt that allows the blood to flow as it should.

Her prognosis is very positive and Sylvia is running in the marathon for the first time in order to raise money for the cardiac ward in Crumlin Children’s Hospital.

“She will have a balloon procedure on her right artery in the hospital tomorrow and the care she is receiving is second to none, but is carried out in third-world facilities that are outdated and congested.

“My baby is amazing and is alive today thanks to the care she has had there and that is why I am running for them.”

* Donations can be made at by searching for ‘baby Mary.’

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