A family have named their baby daughter in honour of the Evelina Children’s hospital after it saved her life.
Evalina ‘Evie’ Cox needed two open heart surgeries at the hospital to mend a number of life-threatening heart defects – all before her second birthday.
Parents Justin and Jo decided to name her after the Evelina in tribute to the hard-working staff there.
“We’ve had such incredible care from the staff since before she was even born, so we decided to name her Evalina,” said Jo, a hypnobirthing instructor from Margate.
“It’s such a pretty name but also a tribute from us to the hospital that treated her.
“We added our own stamp by changing the spelling slightly, and we call her Evie for short, but we just wanted to give thanks to all of the hospital staff. We know she wouldn’t be here without them.”
After something unusual was detected on her 20-week pregnancy scan, Jo was referred to Evelina London and learned the extent of their daughter’s serious heart defects.
Evie’s two main blood vessels, the pulmonary artery and the aorta, were swapped over, and she had only one coronary artery instead of two.
Without surgery, she would not have survived. ““We were in shock. When we heard the extent of Evie’s conditions, we expected the worst. It was just so much to take in,” said 41-year-old Jo.
“Once we’d got our heads around it all, we were reassured that Evelina London would do their best to save her as soon as she was born.”
Her first surgery took place at just six days old and after her first open heart surgery at six weeks old, Evie suffered a cardiac arrest.
Dad Justin, 50, said: “It was the most terrifying thing. Seeing the doctors over Evie while she was still so tiny trying to start her heart again just didn’t feel real.”
Doctors battled to save her and after an hour and twenty minutes of Evie’s heart thankfully began to beat again.
Evie spent a further six weeks at Evelina London and during this time suffered further complications, including a collapsed lung, seizures and a stroke.
“After everything that had already happened, to then have a stroke, you wonder how much she can take,” added PE teacher, Justin.
“Thankfully her brain function was not damaged at all and she made a full recovery.”
Jo and Justin were finally able to take their daughter home when she was 13 weeks old but knew she would need more treatment in the future.
Among them was a marathon nine-hour surgery aged just nineteen-months-old, which her parents nicknamed ‘the big fix’.
Her parents have been told that she shouldn’t require any further procedures until she is a teenager.
“You wouldn’t know she’d been through so much,” dad Justin said. “We’ve always treated her like any other child. She’s so strong-willed and determined.”