At 20-months-old, Chloe Crich has had more medical procedures, blood tests and doctors visits than most adults.
The Metford bub was born with congenital heart disease, which is the leading cause of death of Australian babies under 12 months of age and the most common birth abnormality affecting one in every 100 births.
“She’s our first baby, so we don’t know what normal is,” Chloe’s mum Kristy said.
After suffering six miscarriages, Kristy fell finally pregnant through IVF towards the end of 2015.
But a scan at 13 weeks revealed Chloe had a condition called ventricular septal defect, otherwise known as a hole in the heart.
Due to her condition, doctors planned for her to be born at 26 weeks, bit little Chloe fought on and was born at 36 weeks and five days via C-section. She weighed just 2.2 kilograms.
After two weeks in the NICU, she visited a cardiologist in Maitland who referred her to other specialists in Sydney.
There it was discovered that the heart hole was drowning Chloe in blood and needed to be patched up.
At seven weeks, Chloe underwent her first operation to place a temporary band around the hole until she was big enough to patch it up permanently.
It was a time Kristy could only describe as “a roller coaster”.
“I didn’t want to give her over to the doctors because it took so long to get her,” Kristy said. “It was very stressful and worrying.”
After more tests and visits to the specialist, Chloe was able to have the hole repaired and the band removed at 17-months-old.
Kristy said the future now looked brighter for young Chloe. She still weighs just nine kilograms (the median for her age is about 11.5 kilograms) but is “making up for lost time”, according to Kristy.
Throughout Chloe’s medical journey, the family had the support of the Heartkids, an organisation which assists families of congenital heart disease.
As well as being Valentine’s Day, this Wednesday is also Heartkids Sweetheart Day – a national awareness campaign which supports the tens of thousands affected by congenital heart disease.
Volunteers will be at Stockland Green Hills this Wednesday selling merchandise for the initiative.