Finley Burton was 16-weeks-old when a hole in his heart and a narrowed aorta were repaired by cardiac surgeons.
The baby, from Easington Colliery, County Durham, then developed a rapid heart rhythm of around 200 beats per minute, which could have killed him.
So, while he was still sedated, he was cooled in a special blanket filled with chilled air for four days to allow his heart rate to slow down. They decided to lower his body temperature to just 33.4C
In the meantime, he was on an external pacemaker while his recovery continued.
Paddy Walsh, a specialist children’s cardiac nurse at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, where Finley was treated, said: “Obviously, if babies were awake and conscious throughout they would be very uncomfortable, but they are kept very sedated so they are not fighting it and are asleep.”
He was treated a month ago, and since has made a “super” recovery.
The hole in his heart was causing his lungs to work too hard, making him breathless and too tired to eat properly. The few calories he could take on were used up by the hard work his lungs and heart were doing, the nurse said. “When we close off the hole, babies start breathing at a lovely rate and they manage to feed beautifully,” Walsh said.
The baby’s parents Donna Link-Emery and Aaron Burton were first concerned when he was 10 weeks old because he was not putting on weight.
Checks at the University Hospital of North Durham revealed the congenital heart condition and he underwent surgery at the Freeman Hospital two days later.
Having thought she would lose Finley, his 27-year-old mother told reporters: “Now he’s doing really well and has already put on lots of weight.
“They put him in a little bag which allowed air to flow around his body and he was kept like that for four days.
“It was all so sudden and upsetting. Nothing at all prepares you for seeing your baby in hospital like that. I just cried.”