Mum of baby born with heart on wrong side of body opens up on her fight for life

A mum has spoken about the horrifying ordeal of watching her baby daughter fight for her life after she was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body.

Caitlin Rodger was devastated when doctors first revealed her unborn baby girl had a rare heart defect called Congenitally Corrected Transposition of the Great Arteries (CCTGA).

For Caitlin’s tiny daughter Jessica- Kendra, it meant her heart was on the right side of her body, rather than the left, and the valves and ventricles were back to front.

She said just days after finding out she was pregnant she was dealt the devastating blow that due to the rare heart defect, her baby was already battling for life inside the womb.

The 23-year-old single mum from Dundee, Scotland, who is also the parent of five-year-old Maisey, has now spoken candidly about her experience.

However, after three weeks a routine scan showed that not only did Jessica have CCTGA, she also had a second rare heart defect, Abstein’s Anomaly, which affects just one in 20,000 babies and means the heart valves had failed to form properly and cause leaks.

Caitlin said: “We then got referred to Glasgow’s Royal hospital for Children to the specialists there to see how bad the leak was, but they told me that there wasn’t just one leak there was two.”

Doctors then told the terrified mum that Jessica would need vital surgery to survive.

On January 22 this year, when she was just seven weeks old, Jessica underwent open heart surgery to repair her leaky heart valves.

Caitlin said watching her brand new baby girl going into theatre, not knowing if she would come back out, was heart-breaking.

She said: “The doctors and nurses came to get us and I carried her down. All I could see were a lot of doctors in the room. I had to give her a kiss and say goodbye to her, then I had to stand and watch my little girl get put to sleep.

However, after three weeks a routine scan showed that not only did Jessica have CCTGA, she also had a second rare heart defect, Abstein’s Anomaly, which affects just one in 20,000 babies and means the heart valves had failed to form properly and cause leaks.

Caitlin said: “We then got referred to Glasgow’s Royal hospital for Children to the specialists there to see how bad the leak was, but they told me that there wasn’t just one leak there was two.”

Doctors then told the terrified mum that Jessica would need vital surgery to survive.

On January 22 this year, when she was just seven weeks old, Jessica underwent open heart surgery to repair her leaky heart valves.

Caitlin said watching her brand new baby girl going into theatre, not knowing if she would come back out, was heart-breaking.

She said: “The doctors and nurses came to get us and I carried her down. All I could see were a lot of doctors in the room. I had to give her a kiss and say goodbye to her, then I had to stand and watch my little girl get put to sleep.

“I broke down in tears again knowing there was a chance the operation could be unsuccessful.

“But the surgery went so well and Jessica coped amazingly. I could not have been happier.”

Just one day after her life-saving surgery, tiny Jessica came off oxygen and proved how determined she was to live by breathing on her own.

Caitlin added: “It wasn’t a nice feeling to see your baby in ICU with all these tubes coming out of her and me not being able to help her.

“I wouldn’t wish any parent to go through what I had to go through, but I knew if she didn’t get this surgery done she wouldn’t have made it.”

Caitlin says Jessica, who is now ten weeks old, still has some tough surgeries ahead of her to try and correct some of the defects in her heart, but doctors say she should be able to live a normal life.

Caitlin said: “Her heart will always be on the wrong side, but we travel to Birmingham to see specialists later this year we are hopeful she will go on to live a pretty normal life.

“All the doctors and all the nurses were really impressed with how quickly she had recovered in so short amount of time. I am so proud of Jessica and how far she has come.”