A miracle boy who suffers from a rare heart defect celebrated his fifth birthday at the weekend just weeks after having a life changing heart operation.
Five-year-old Josh O’Hagan from Park Road, Armagh Road, Dundalk was full of smiles at his welcome home party on Saturday.
Little Josh suffers from hypoplastic right heart syndrome. The condition means that the chambers, valves and related blood vessels on the right side of the heart are malformed.
This is Josh’s third operation since he was born.
Surgeons first operated on Josh when he was just three days old to help his heart pump blood more effectively.
After five months in Crumlin’s Children’s Hospital, he was finally released. Although it was just the beginning of a life-long treatment plan for Josh.
In 2010, Josh had a second successful heart operation.
Josh spent a month in recovery following his most recent eight hour operation and is being cared for by his parents Mags and Niall at home.
“We just take each day as it comes,” Mags told The Dundalk Democrat,
“Josh is feeling upbeat and is delighted to be home.”
At ten weeks pregnant, Mags found out that she was having twins. But eighteen weeks into her pregnancy medical staff discovered that Josh had a heart problem.
“This operation has been the hardest for Josh and the whole family.
“Josh is no longer a baby. He is aware what is going on and that he has a heart problem.”
In preparation for his recent operation, the O’Hagan family visited a psychologist.
“We had to prepare that we would see Josh with a lot of tubes and medical equipment attached to him.
“Josh became familiar with the syringes and he wasn’t frightened. He is a great fighter.
“Josh neve r gives up. When he is not at home, the family doesn’t feel complete.”
Josh now takes thirteen tablets a day and attends Drogheda hospital every two weeks for blood tests.
Doctors will keep on eye on his blood levels and it will be some months before the next step is considered.
Eventually, Josh might have to have a heart transplant.
“As technology and medicine advances, we hope that there will be more options for Josh when he is older,” said Mags.
Josh is expected to start Scoil Phadraig Naofa primary school in Kilcurry in September and will be supported by a special needs assistant.
Over the summer, he will have lots of fun with sisters Kim, Alicia and brother Jamie.
The family have also praised the work of the Ronald McDonald House in Crumlin which provides accommodation and support for families whose children are undergoing treatment at Crumlin’s Children’s Hospital.
“The house is an amazing service and we cannot thank the volunteers enough for all their help,” said dad Niall.
“They do fantastic work and we as a family will be forever grateful.
“They allow the whole family to sleep and spend the weekend with Josh while he was in hospital.
“I would love to see a charity event being organised in Dundalk to help raise money for Crumlin and the Ronald McDonald.”