A critically-ill mother whose heart was failing after being struck down by a rare virus made a incredible recovery when her sleeping three-month-old son was placed beside her on her hospital bed.
Holli Cheung, 36, was left fighting for her life after contracting myocarditis, an infection which attacked her heart muscles and triggered two cardiac arrests.
Her condition was so serious that medics believed her only chance of survival was a heart transplant.
But staff at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital were left stunned when her husband Jason left little Jordan sleeping by his mother’s side – and her heart started beating again.
The amazing recovery came after Ms Cheung, from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, was reunited with her little boy for the first time ten days.
‘My baby saved me, there’s no doubt about that,’ Ms Cheung said. ‘I think that for whatever reason, he woke up my heart.
‘I have no idea what happened that night. All I know is that when the doctors and consultants came round on their ward rounds the next day, they were astonished to see my heart beating.
‘After that night, slowly but surely, my heart got a little stronger and I started to recover.’
Ms Cheung initially fell ill on New Year’s Day when she fainted at home while changing her son.
She had been suffering with headaches and visited her GP, but was told it was probably due to a lack of sleep.
But within an hour of getting home from the surgery, she fainted again. Ms Cheung was rushed to nearby Stoke Mandeville before being transferred to Oxford’s John Radcliffe.
Ms Cheung said: ‘I was advised to go home to rest. Just an hour later, as I held my baby on my lap, I passed out and Jordan rolled off my lap on to the floor.
‘Next thing I knew, I was surrounded by paramedics along with my husband Jason, and was on a stretcher on my way to hospital.’
In hospital, a consultant diagnosed Ms Cheung with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a rare virus.
Shortly afterwards, Ms Cheung suffered a cardiac arrest. Medics had to shock her 45 times with a defibrillator to get her heart beating again.
Realising how severe her condition was, medics transferred Ms Cheung to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for specialist care. But while there, she suffered a second cardiac arrest.
Doctors eventually managed to stabilize Ms Cheung. But she had to rely on a biventricular assist device, a machine which kept her blood pumping.
But the machine is only able to be used for around two weeks before complications set in, sparking fears about Ms Cheung’s recovery.
‘I felt like I was in a dream, and everything was just a blur,’ Ms Cheung said. ‘I have little flashbacks and I can remember my family coming in to hold my arms.
‘After a few days I woke up and asked for a pen so I could write things down to communicate because I couldn’t speak. It was terrifying. I couldn’t believe this was my life.’
She added that it was ‘gut-wrenching’ to have to be away from her little boy.
‘Before, I had been there for him 24/7 and I had been breast-feeding him,’ she said. ‘Not being able to pick him up, soothe him, change him or feed him was like a pain I can’t describe.
I have no idea what happened that night. But my baby saved me, there’s no doubt about that
‘To help me, family and friends printed photos of Jordan and put posters up all over my room. It became like a shrine and we all started to call the room, the “Jordan Suite”. ‘
After ten days on the machine, a donor team came to talk with Ms Cheung about her options. They even put the young mother on a transplant list as a precaution.
Then, in a bid to lift her spirits, her husband Jason brought baby Jordan into the unit, where he was allowed to sleep alongside his mother for a couple of hours.
That night, her heart started to beat again on its own.
Two weeks later, the heart machine was removed and the organ was strong enough to function on its own again.
‘I don’t know whether it was a miracle, but some of the nurses certainly thought it was,’ Ms Cheung said. ‘Other people say it was the strength of a mother’s love.
‘He kept me fighting, he made me stronger and determined to get better, and he helped me recover.’
Now, three months after leaving the hospital, Ms Cheung is raising money for the Queen Elizabeth.
She said: ‘I, alongside family, friends and staff at the QE, will take part in the Birmingham Color Run to raise money for the hospital’s Critical Care Unit where I was treated.
‘Without the great staff at the QE, my husband, my family and my darling baby, I wouldn’t be here today. This is my way of thanking each and every one of them – because I owe them my life.’
A spokeswoman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity said: ‘We are delighted by the recovery of Holli and wish her, baby Jordan, and her husband all the best wishes for the future.
‘We are very grateful to Holli and her family for making the time and effort to raise money for our hospital and the staff who treated her.’
She is fundraising for the Colour Run at www.justgiving.com/Holli-Cheung.
Source: Daily Mail