Our daughter Harriet, or ‘Piggles’ as she was affectionally known, was born in 2012 with a serious congenital heart defect that was diagnosed when she was just 12 months old. Harriet had her first open heart surgery a couple of months later, which albeit successful, was not the end of her treatment. She needed to undergo further open-heart surgery the following year, and despite requiring feeding tubes due to her diminished appetite during that period, she began to thrive.
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In 2015, at 3 years old, Harriet was struck down with a bacterial infection on her heart. She proved to be a complex and unique patient and really challenged the medical teams who were treating her, having severe reactions to every antibiotic. She acquired a life-threatening arrhythmia and subsequently spent a gruelling 7 months in hospital waiting to be at minimal risk so that a defibrillator could be inserted. She came through this horrendous ordeal with flying colours.
Finally arriving home shortly before Christmas, Harriet was able to enjoy some long overdue and hugely cherished time with her family, and normality slowly resumed… playing with friends, going on holiday, being at nursery school… life for our busy 4 year old was full of fun, hope and excitement!
In May 2016 Harriet suddenly fell ill from an infection so aggressive that her heart could not withstand it and, tragically, she died within hours. Her death came as an immense shock to all that knew and loved her, and the void that it has left in our lives is overwhelming.
In 2017, with incredible support from family and friends, we set up Piggles Trust in Harriet’s honour. Piggles Trust is a charity dedicated to providing pre-school education to patients and their siblings in hospital. And so, her name lives on and we draw inner strength and comfort in the knowledge that we are making a real difference to children’s lives.