A CHALFORD family are ramping up the red for heart disease on Friday.
Charlie Robbins, five, was born with critical aortic stenosis, a heart condition which prevented a steady flow of oxygenated blood from being pumped around his body.
“As soon as they cut the umbilical cord he went very blue and was struggling to breathe,” said Charlie’s mum Claire, who has two other children, Beth, 10, and Lauren, 13, with husband Mark.
Charlie, who attends Chalford Hill Primary School, was rushed from Cheltenham General Hospital to St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol, which specialises in maternity services, where he spent the first two weeks of his life.
He was then sent to Evelina London Children’s Hospital for 12 weeks.
Charlie underwent two open heart surgeries in the first weeks of his life to access the problem with his heart and when he was eight months old he had a valve replacement.
He has now outgrown that first valve and next year will be going back under the knife to have another replacement valve fitted.
It is estimated that he will then need two more operations, at the age of 11 and then 18, until his body is fully grown and replacements are no longer needed.
“We are hoping however that with research we won’t have to go down the open heart surgery route,” said Claire, who works part time as a disability nurse.
To raise money for the British Heart Foundation, Claire has asked Charlie’s school to organise a ‘dress in red’ day on Friday to coincide with Ramp up the Red – an event which encourages people across the country to wear red to raise money for heart disease.
“The children will make a donation to wear red and hopefully we will raise some money for a very worthy cause,” said Claire.
Charlie’s older sister Lauren also asked for her class at Stroud High School to make the Evelina hospital their charity for the upcoming term.
“This is a heart condition that will affect Charlie his whole life,” added Claire, who has been married to Mark for 14 years.
“Even between the surgeries he will always need to take medication but for the most part he is like any other five-year-old and as difficult as it is we just have to let him be one.
“Unfortunately he will never be able to play any contact sports so for now we are trying to get him interested in swimming and cricket.”