Wellingborough family feeling the love with heartfelt fundraiser for inspirational Polly

A Wellingborough couple, who were told their unborn daughter had a 50:50 chance of survival, are getting ready to celebrate her fourth birthday and to raise money for the heart charity that supported them.

By Alison Bagley
Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 6:00 am
Kate, Polly and Anthony
Kate, Polly and Anthony

Kate and Anthony Carlton say it was constant support from charity Little Hearts Matter that changed their daughter Polly's life when it was discovered only half her heart worked.

The pair want to thank the group with their fundraising efforts through hairdresser Kate's work and by Anthony's sponsored half-marathons.

Kate, 34, said: "Without Little Hearts we would be in a different situation. They have been so supportive we want to support them as much as we can."

Stacy and Polly with the fundraising raffle

It was because the mum-of-two had been born with a heart problem, discovered when she was two years old, that she had been offered increased monitoring during her pregnancies.

Her first baby, May, born nine-years-ago, had been delivered by c-section with 16 medics in the operating theatre in case Kate's heart valves failed.

The level of monitoring for mum and baby was just as intense during her second pregnancy but baby Polly's heart problem was missed at both the routine ten and 20-week scans.

It was another appointment at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital that discovered things were not right with the baby's circulation system.

Polly Carlton with a photo of herself as a baby

Baby Polly's heart was only using the right-hand side to pump blood around her body - the left side had failed to grow properly because of a condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

Kate said: "We had a feotal heart scan at 26-weeks. It took a long time to do the scan. We were taken into a separate room and they drew a picture of a heart and given three options - terminate, give birth and let her die naturally, or a three-stage operation. They gave us the Little Hearts Matters leaflet and we went home.

"We felt sorry for ourselves and I phoned the charity in the morning.

Anthony said: "It was never an option that we weren't going to keep her. We were going to fight for her. We found out we could choose where she could be born and met with the cardiac team to talk it through. We were told she had a 50:50 chance of survival."

The team at Avant Garde in High Street Wellingborough who have been fundraising for Little Hearts Matter

Kate gave birth by c-section in Birmingham with Polly whisked straight away to special care to be put on a ventilator. But not before new big sister May got to meet her.

Polly underwent her first open heart surgery at three days old - a Norwood procedure - and two further lifesaving operations at two weeks old.

At four and a half months old she had the second of the three-stage procedures - the Glen procedure - to help blood flow to her lungs.

In October 2019, Polly had another operation - a Fontan procedure - to improve her circulation.

Polly after her first lifesaving operation

Anthony,41, an engineer, said: "It's made a massive difference and given her a new lease of life.

"Before she couldn't walk anywhere or be out in the cold. She will be going back to ballet soon.

" Kate and I are so proud of Polly with the strength she shows every day. She really is an inspiration."

The next step for Polly, who will celebrate her fourth birthday on February 23, will be a heart transplant but the family do not know how long they have before Polly's heart needs replacing.

Anthony added: "The side of her heart that does work, doesn't work very well. The next step will be a transplant but there is no timescale for when."

Kate, who has worked as a stylist at Avant Garde in High Street Wellingborough for 19 years, added: "We don't feel alone. We're lucky that we've got so much support with family, friends, and the staff at Avant Garde have made it so easy.

The Great North Run fundraising team

"All the staff and clients have made cakes to sell. We have had a tremendous amount of support from family and friends."

"We would like to thank Stacy Judge for organising the raffle and Avant Garde owner Mark and Sarah Lovesey."

Staff at the salon have been busy selling raffle tickets and dad Anthony is back in training ready to run the Great North Run to add to the £4,000 his team of runners raised last year.

Stacy said: "Every day is a challenge and a worry for them all as a family and without the charity Little Hearts Matter they wouldn’t have known where to turn.

"As a busy Wellingborough salon, where Kate has worked for nearly 20 years, we can help. February is national heart month and we ran a cake sale last year and raised over £400,

"This year we are doing the same on February, Friday 14 but running up to it we will be running a raffle many local businesses have so kindly donated and hopefully we will have great success."