Joy as ‘miracle’ girl Lauren starts school

Photo shows, Saoirse, John, Thelma, Lauren and Nicole Gamble.

A child’s first day of school is an important milestone in every family but for Mullingar parents Joe and Thelma Gamble seeing their daughter Lauren walk through the gates of Presentation Junior School was extra special.

Lauren, who turns five today, has a rare cardiac condition, hypoplastic left heart syndrome, and will require a heart transplant in the coming years. The condition, which affects around one child in 100,000, was diagnosed when mum Thelma was six months pregnant.

From the minute she entered the world on September 3 2014, Lauren has faced challenges but she has met each one head-on, her proud mum says.

“I got a quick hold of her when she was born and then she was brought to the ICU in Holles Street. An hour later she was taken to Crumlin. I barely got to see her or hold her.

“The next morning they rang me and told me that I needed to come straight over. They said it was very serious and that she had a 25% chance of surviving. They said that they had to do surgery straight away.”

During her first months, Lauren suffered cardiac arrest on a number of occasions and had further surgery to try and stabilise her condition.

Joe and Thelma were finally able to bring her home after eight months and since then she has defied doctors’ expectations. While her energy levels are low and everyday tasks like going up and down stairs can be hard, Thelma says that her resilience and good humour inspire her and John.

“Her cardiologist is amazed at how well she is coping. Last week he said that she is a miracle baby.

“For some reason, she is coping. There are other children whose heart function is so much better than Lauren’s but they are in the hospital all the time. She’s not. She has her medication of course and it is always a high dose because it keeps her stable.”

Despite her health challenges, Lauren’s doctors say that because she is coping so well at present she should be able to wait a number of years before being put on the transplant waiting list.

On July 12, Mullingar husband and wife Mark and Kim Reynolds held a golf classic in Moyvalley Golf Club and raised €7,000, which was used to purchase seven defibrillators for families with members who have congenital heart defects, including the Gambles.

Fifteen members of Kim’s family have heart conditons, including all her brothers and sisters, and her daughter teenage daugther Erin. Thanking the 80 local businesses who sponsored prizes for a raffle at the event, Kim says that their generosity they could help save a life.

“We lost a nephew at 17 years of age from a heart condition. I always remember the cardiologist telling me that if there had been a defibrillator in the house he could possibly have got through it and be alive today. It always stuck in my mind. Families need to have these if they have heart defects.”

The Gambles were presented with their defibrillator at an event in St Loman’s GFC’s clubhouse on Saturday. John and Thelma, as well as family members, also received training on how to use the potentially life saving piece of equipment.

A thankful Thelma says that having a defibrillator in their home, will give her family some much welcomed peace of mind.

“This is huge. We can sleep better at night. We can bring this with us when we go out. We will not be so restricted about where we can go. That little bit of peace of mind is there. Even to have this training for other family members. We will be able to do things like go out for dinner. It’s such a relief. I feel so overwhelmed.”

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