Family backs Sophie in fight for life

Four-year-old Sophie Sargeant celebrates Cardiac Heart Day in the Octagon with parents Jason and Tami. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Four-year-old Sophie Sargeant celebrates Cardiac Heart Day in the Octagon with parents Jason and Tami. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Like most preschoolers, Sophie Sargeant is itching to start school in a couple of months.

For the 4-year-old's parents, Jason and Tami, it would be a day they thought might never come.

Mr Sargeant said medical specialists discovered Sophie had major heart defects while she was still in the womb, and they were told she might not survive long after birth.

''It was at the 20-week anatomical scan, we found out that there were complications with her heart.

''After a couple of trips to Christchurch and Auckland for specialist scans, they found out that she had congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries [CCTGA] and a large hole in her heart.

''At that point, we were really concerned because we didn't know what the diagnosis meant.

''When they first discovered that there were complications with the heart, we were asked if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy.''

Mr Sargeant said they decided to continue the pregnancy.

''We decided if she was going to fight, we would fight.

''And we're so pleased we did.''

Sophie has had two major surgeries at Starship Hospital, in Auckland.

The first was three weeks after she was born, to have a pacemaker installed. The second was at 11 months when she had ''complicated'' major heart surgery to correct the CCTGA and repair the hole.

There will be more in the future, including to replace her pacemaker next year and some additional ''maintenance surgery'' on her heart.

''While her heart is functioning, it's not functioning as a normal heart, so sometimes things can leak or become blocked because of the scarring and the movements of arteries within the heart.''

Mr Sargeant said there would be ongoing issues with Sophie's heart, but he and Mrs Sargeant were grateful and delighted their daughter was able to live a ''relatively normal'' 4-year-old's life.

Sophie was one of more than 500 children across Otago with heart conditions who celebrated Cardiac Heart Day yesterday.

Schools and businesses in Otago joined people across the world in the celebration by dressing in red and raising funds for Heart Kids Otago. The Dunedin City Council participated by lighting Wall St, the town hall and Toitu Otago Settlers Museum in red last night.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

Add a Comment