During Paul O’Grady’s Little Heroes, we’re delving deeper into the stories shared on ITV. Ruth and her son, Ezra, featured in Episode 2.
Arriving in familiar surroundings
Ezra arrived at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) at just 14 weeks old. His mum, Ruth, is a nurse on Kingfisher Ward at the hospital and found herself in familiar surroundings although didn’t expect to return back to GOSH during her maternity leave.
“Ezra was born a seemingly healthy little boy in January,” says Ruth. “He coughed a bit when I first fed him, but the paediatrician wasn’t overly concerned as often babies born by C section are full of mucus so we were discharged.
“When this continued for a few days, I began to get more concerned so took Ezra to the GP who put it down to reflux, something very common in new born babies. One night during a coughing episode, Ezra turned blue and it was terrifying. We took him to A&E and we were then transferred to GOSH.
“Ezra was kept in over-night for observation and got transferred to Chameleon Ward at GOSH. It was very surreal to see my own baby being cared for in the hospital I was so used to working in.”
When a medical staff used a small camera to look at Ezra’s windpipe, they discovered a hole between his wind pipe, and food pipe. This is known as a tracheo-oesophageal fistula or TOF for short, and it is a rare condition that affects approximately one in every 3,500 babies in the UK a year.
“It was a really scary time for us all because he was so little,” recalls Ruth. “We were told he would need surgery to close the hole so he could feed and breath properly. It meant that he had a feeding tube for the first few months of his life – as a first-time mum, I found this really hard, but the team at GOSH were phenomenal.”
For Ezra, surgery was the only option to ensure he would remain a healthy baby and avoid chest infections and possible stays in intensive care which are often a result of an untreated TOF.
“After Ezra’s diagnosis, Kate Cross, one of the specialised paediatric surgeons at GOSH, came and explained the surgery to us,” says Ruth. “Kate made us feel at ease from the get go – she explained everything not just in medical terms that I understood because I’m a nurse, but also for my husband Felix to understand.
“The surgery was a really scary time for us, but I felt confident that Ezra was in very safe hands. Kate phoned us personally when his surgery was complete and then came to see us to go through what the surgery had involved, what we were to expect and what the plan was from then on. Ezra went straight up to Paediatric Intensive Care (PICU). He looked so tiny and vulnerable but the nurses were incredible.
“Ezra was on PICU for eight days, for six of those he was on life support. Coming off the life support was a lot harder than we expected as he didn’t breathe properly and for a few long hours he was close to being taken back to theatre to see what was going on.
“Thankfully he picked up and just got stronger. The staff were so supportive – made us go and eat, drink and sleep even when we didn’t want to. We always felt like our baby was in good hands. They didn’t even get annoyed with us calling every 30 minutes to check he was OK!”
“After those tough few days on PICU, Ezra was transferred to back to Chameleon ward, and once again the staff were incredible. They were so loving, and Ezra charmed them all and loved having cuddles with them all!”
“Ezra is doing really well! We are so proud of how he has recovered from his surgery, if anything he is getting a little chunky! We have started on puree as well as breast feeding as per Kate Cross' advice and he loves his food.
“He missed out on meeting family and friends in his early weeks as he spent so much time in hospital, so he's really enjoying meeting up with cousins, friends and the family without having to be attached to a tube and milk in a bag!
“When we were in hospital I kept thinking I was going to wake up from a nightmare, but now having him home, having fun in the garden is all our dreams come true. We took him swimming for the first time the other day and he loves it!”
Inspired by Ruth and Ezra's story and interested in becoming a nurse at GOSH? Read how to join our wonderful nursing team.
And interested in other careers at GOSH? Explore our careers pages.