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Friday, 23 November, 2001, 06:38 GMT
Baby unable to cry has surgery abroad
Phoebe Davies
Phoebe's heart would eventually stop without the operation
A toddler who cannot laugh or cry for more than a few minutes is flying to Canada for a life-saving heart operation.

Phoebe Davies, aged one, will have a 12-hour operation at Toronto children's hospital to replace the two main arteries in her heart.

A congenital heart defect means that laughing or crying could trigger a potentially fatal angina attack.

Her parents, Ruth and Kevin, are now hoping that everything goes well after people in Kent and Essex raised 70,000 to help pay for her treatment.

Fatal condition

Phoebe was born with aortic and pulmonary stenosis, a severe narrowing of the main arteries in her heart.

Her heart will eventually simply stop beating due to the constant increased work rate it has to maintain to keep up her blood supply.

The operation will create more room in the left side of her heart to reduce the strain on the organ.

But there is a risk that she could be brain-damaged during the procedure.

It's comforting to know that a lot of people have supported us, that everybody has gone out and gone mad for it

Ruth Davies, Phoebe's mum
"It's absolutely frightening, just the uncertainty about it all," said Mrs Davies, who looks after Phoebe at the family home in Deal, Kent.

"We're just hoping that everything turns out OK."

Ruth grew up in Essex and organisations throughout her home county and in Kent have raised 70,000 for the trip.

The family have already paid 31,000 for the operation but Phoebe will need intensive care after surgery which costs 2,500 a day.

"It's comforting to know that a lot of people have supported us, that everybody has gone out and gone mad for it," said Mrs Davies.

Phoebe will have to return to the operating theatre for more surgery every time she doubles in size and faces the prospect of further operations at age two, six, 14, and 20.

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See also:

04 Oct 01 | Health
Keyhole throat op saves baby
23 Jun 00 | G-I
Congenital heart defects
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