During her 16-week checkup, doctors gave Zofia Fenrych heartbreaking news about her daughter’s condition. The unborn child had a severe heart defect and her advice was to terminate the pregnancy.
But Zofia, 41, and her partner Rob, 50, decided it wasn’t an option for them.
Instead, their baby daughter, Dorothea, was born in June 2022 and began an epic battle for her survival.
Although she underwent heart surgery – and a cardiac arrest that lasted more than an hour – the four-month-old survived against all odds.
According to Mirror, “She fought so hard to be here with us and want to show people to never give up,’ said proud mum, Zofia.
Zofia and Rob, from Sussex, who already have two-year-old Bathsheba together, were delighted to learn that they were expecting their second child in October 2021.
But the couple’s excitement turned to dismay when a 16-week scan revealed that their daughter had hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), in which the left side of the organ is chronically underdeveloped.
Rob said, “I had a dream we were having a baby girl and bought the pregnancy test for Zofia – we were so excited”, reports Mirror.
Zofia, homeopath, added: “But doctors strongly urged us to terminate the pregnancy because her defect was terrible, But it was never an option for us – we fell in love with her and couldn’t give up on her,” Reported Mirror.
The passionate couple was determined to carry the pregnancy to term and began researching treatment options.
They spoke to a specialist foetal cardiologist who said their baby’s heart could be reconstructed at three days of life.
But another blow was delivered when the 24-week scan revealed that Dorothea also had a heart block.
The only option was to undergo an in vitro operation which could have increased her chances of survival from 5% to 87%.
The couple went to work raising money for the surgery – which was only available in Texas, US and cost £ 2.5 million – but was unable to raise the huge sum of money.
Then, at 29 weeks, they were desperate for an alternative treatment.
It was then that Rob, a former US soldier, contacted the Royal Brompton Hospital, the UK’s largest medical centre specializing in cardiology and lungs, who agreed to operate on their baby on arrival.
Rob said: “It was the most complicated case they had ever seen,” reports the Mirror.
Little Dorothea arrived on June 7, 2022, and Rob says the surgery to reconstruct her heart almost didn’t happen because she “had no chance of survival.
Rob explained: “The night before surgery, we were told the doctors were cancelling the op because she wouldn’t survive”, according to Mirror.
Finally, at seven days, little Dorothea was taken to the theatre.
According to the Mirror, Rob said: “We managed to get the hospital to overturn the decision, and we prayed she would pull through.”
Dorothea spent 11 hours in surgery as doctors rewired her veins and arteries to slide them to the right side of her heart.
To everyone’s delight, the operation was successful, but a few hours after returning to the ward she suffered a cardiac arrest.
Dorothea spent the next six weeks in intensive care with her chest cavity open and connected to an ECMO machine, which works like an artificial heart to pump blood around the body.
Despite all the odds stacked against her, she became strong enough to move to a regular ward and turn off the fan on August 26, 2022.
She will have to undergo another heart operation at the age of six months for which Zofia and Rob are currently raising funds, but are hoping for Dorothea’s future.
Rob said, “She looks like a healthy little girl and we can’t believe how far she has come,” reports the Mirror.
Zofia added: “Seeing her here and thriving has been worth it,” reports the Mirror.
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