- Michael Labuschagne, now 10 months, was rushed to hospital at 14 weeks old
- Michael’s parents were warned he may never wake up from his cardiac arrest
- But he did, and doctors from Bristol discovered he had a rare heart tumour
- The NHS is unable to offer the expensive surgery that is available in Boston
A toothless grin etched across his face, this is the moment 10-month-old Michael defied doctors to awake from his five-day coma.
Parents Stuart and Emma Labuschagne, who was braced to never see their son open his eyes, were overwhelmed with emotion as he finally regained consciousness and smiled back at them. A tangle of wires and tubes attached to the boy lay bare the seriousness of his cardiac arrest – which medics believed he would not pull through.
But Michael, who suffers from a rare heart tumour, miraculously beat the odds and stirred awake to the amazement of those crowded around his Bristol hospital bed. However, the brave boy’s fight is not yet over, as his parents are desperately trying to raise £120,000 for life-saving surgery in the US. Michael was rushed to hospital on March 16 when he was just 14 weeks old after began frantically gasping for air during a cardiac arrest.
He awoke on March 21 when doctors reduced his sedative drugs – opening his eyes and smiling at his father, Stuart, 28. But that happy moment was quickly tempered by news that Michael’s cardiac arrest had been caused by a rare heart tumour. The cardiac fibroma can cause his pulse to race dangerously fast. Only a handful of patients are thought to have one in the UK. There is no long-term solution offered on the NHS but Michael’s parents discovered a hospital in Boston which can remove the tumour.
They now need to raise a staggering £116,000 so he can be cured – and ideally within six months, when his heart will be the ideal size for operating on. Mother-of-three Emma Labuschagne, 27, said: ‘At 14 weeks and three days old he went to bed like any other baby.
‘But at 5 am he had suffered heart failure. Words cannot begin to describe the pain we felt in that moment. ‘We watched our baby breathless, gasping for air while his heart stopped and paramedics worked to save his life. ‘At that moment I did not think Michael would make it through. Yet I am so so blessed to be here telling you that he survived.
She added: ‘He survived an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest which only seven per cent patients do.’ After Michael woke up, his parents were told there was a high chance their baby had suffered brain damage. But a scan revealed that this wasn’t the case. However, Mrs Labuschagne and her husband, a plumber, were then delivered the hammer blow that Michael had a cardiac tumour.
The majority of cardiac tumours in children are benign, meaning they are non-cancerous and are unlikely to spread to other organs. However, because the heart is such an essential organ, even benign tumours can be life-threatening. The tumour can interfere with the way the heart works, blocking blood flow to vital organs and causing an abnormal rhythm.
Michael’s palm-sized cardiac fibroma is attached to the septum within the left chamber of his heart. Fibromas are the second most common heart tumour, accounting for 14 per cent of cardiac tumours in children, according to Boston Children’s Hospital. Fibromas may obstruct blood flow and are often associated with arrhythmias and ventricular tachycardia – when the heart beats faster than normal.
It’s the same tumour that struck Oliver Cameron, the baby boy from Wantage, Oxfordshire, who made headlines in 2017. After his family tried saving thousands for the same operation that Michael needs, NHS bosses U-turned and paid for the treatment in Boston. It is unclear how many people of any age are affected by cardiac tumours. Only 200 cases of cardiac fibroma have been recorded in medical literature to date, figures suggest.
Michael was fitted with a pacemaker after waking up from the coma, which should help control his heart rhythm. But unfortunately, because he is so small, the pacemaker restricts his movement. Currently, he is unable to sit up or support his own head. Shop worker Mrs Labuschagne said: ‘It does hold him back. It’s as big as the size of the palm of my hand and it has sharp edges.
‘Putting that inside a baby is quite uncomfortable for them. But he is amazing, you wouldn’t know to look at him that he is fighting this. ‘He’s a lovely little baby – it’s hard to believe he’s going through what he is. He’s a miracle.’ Michael is also having technical problems with his pacemaker – the sensing lead is struggling to read Michael’s heart rate which means it is completely unreliable and potentially will not work.
Mrs Labuschagne said: ‘Every day is an unknown until we can get his fibroma removed.’ The mother has now set up a GoFundMe page to try and raise money for Michael’s surgery. She said: ‘Boston Children’s Hospital, ranked number one paediatric hospital in the world, has quoted us $147,000 which converts to approximately £116,000 for the procedure and we will need to pay for flights and accommodation.
‘The cardiac surgeons at Boston are the best cardiac surgeons in the world and they have done this operation several times. ‘They are confident that they can drastically improve, or even cure, his condition by resecting the tumour. ‘They want to operate within six months as his heart will be a good size. The fundraiser is doing really well so far, but it’s still quite early days.’
This Article Originally Published at dailymail