Baby Joy for Heart Defect Mum

A Norwich mother born with a very rare heart problem who was warned having a child may prove fatal has happily given birth to a baby boy thanks to the care and skill of a hospital maternal medicine team.

Charlotte Dix, 24, of Norwich, who was born with congenital heart problems that mean her heart only has one pumping chamber and a very narrow artery, discovered she was pregnant last year (whilst taking the oral contraceptive pill) and the happy news was tempered by concerns for her and her unborn child’s health.

Charlotte, an administrator, who has previously had three major heart operations, at London's Royal Brompton hospital, said: “The concern was that my body would not be able to cope with pregnancy or labour so discovering that I had become pregnant was a huge deal. I went to see my cardiologist, Dr Leisa Freeman, straightaway. She introduced me to the rest to the rest of the maternal medicine team, Katherine Stanley and Debbie Browne

“I had been thinking about going back to London for my care but I thought the NNUH team was great. It was really nice to have three women doctors and they were all very honest with me and very supportive”.

The maternal medicine team ‘s job is to help mothers for whom pregnancy poses serious risks to their own and their baby’s health, by preventing and managing complications as far as possible. Charlotte’s team was Dr Leisa Freeman, cardiologist, Miss Katherine Stanley obstetrician, and Dr Deborah Browne, anaesthetist. As more women with congenital and other heart problems want to have babies this multidisciplinary team approach is vital to ensuring the best possible care and outcome.

At home Charlotte was provided with oxygen and a wheelchair and told to reduce her activity to an absolute minimum. , “I did get very tired and breathing was more difficulty but looking back the pregnancy wasn't as bad as it could have been”, she said.

She was closely monitored throughout her pregnancy before son Freddie was born on 19th January at 31 weeks by elective caesarean weighing 3 pounds and 11 ounces. Freddie spent a month in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit before going home with Charlotte and her husband.

Charlotte said: “I'm just really pleased; it was the right decision to take. I had thought it was my only chance to have a child and I knew I was the fittest I have ever been and I didn't want to let that opportunity pass.”

Dr Freeman said: “Charlotte does have what is a rare heart problem and there were some real risks for her pregnancy. We are all delighted that she and Freddie did so well and only too pleased to have helped Charlotte have a child. It was important that she was under regular follow up at the Grown Up Congenital Heart (GUCH) clinic here at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital so that her care could be co-ordinated from the outset. There are still some patients who having been born with congenital heart disease and operated upon in childhood are not having regular follow up. Such individuals should discuss this with their family doctor to determine if they need to be referred to the GUCH clinic at NNUH.”

Media contact: Communications on 01603 287200.

  • GUCH (Grown Up Congenital Heart) Patient Association
  • GUCH Helpline 0800 854759

Picture caption, left to right: The NNUH maternal medicine team of Dr Debbie Browne, consultant anaesthetist, Dr Leisa Freeman, consultant cardiologist, Miss Katherine Stanley consultant obstetrician and staff midwife Sue Ginn, with Charlotte and Freddie Dix (seated)

Tuesday 5th of October 2004 04:00:12 PM