3 Rifles event Edinburgh, British Heart Foundation


I work in Edinburgh and would be interested in donating, if anyone has further details. Failing that, I'll send a cheque to Redford Barracks.

Army shows its heart as Skye defies all the odds
Date: 14 January 2009


WHEN little Skye McWilliams was born, doctors warned her parents she might only live a few days.

Born with only half a heart, she has already had to undergo two operations in her short life and is likely to need a transplant before she is 12. But despite the odds, Skye is now a lively 18-month-old, who loves playing with her identical twin sister, Sienna.

Her parents, Samantha and Andrew, from Colinton, say she has "really triumphed" since her last operation, and is doing better than they thought possible. They are determined to give her as normal a childhood as possible.

Now Andrew, 28, a rifleman based at Redford Barracks, and more than 600 members of 3 Rifles Battalion are planning a fundraising run inspired by the toddler. They will be running up Blackford Hill, dressed in red, on Friday, February 20, to support the British Heart Foundation.

Samantha, 34, said she was shocked when doctors diagnosed Skye's condition shortly after her birth. Her sister was born with a normal heart.

She said: "They were born by emergency Caesarian as Skye's heart stopped beating. When she was born they took her to intensive care right away, and I couldn't see her until the next day.

"Her heart wasn't pumping. She had to have an operation after 11 days to allow blood to flow.

"They told me because of the nature of her condition, they didn't think she'd survive."

Skye was born with only a right ventricle to her heart, a condition known as hypoplastic left heart syndrome. About one in 5000 babies is affected and a third don't survive the first few weeks. Children have to undergo surgery to allow the right ventricle, the weaker side of the heart, to pump blood round the whole body.

Skye has suffered slight brain damage due to her condition and has also developed more slowly than her twin sister.

Mrs McWilliams said: "Fifteen years ago she would never have survived. She'll need another operation in two-and-a-half years and she needs to take daily medication. But after her surgery last year, she's really triumphed. She loves playing with her sister. She's always clapping, and playing the piano and the tambourine.

"We're trying to be positive, because medical science is improving all the time."

The couple also have a five-year-old daughter Heather, as well as Mrs McWilliams' sons, Martin and Isaac, from her previous marriage.

She said the Army had been very supportive of the family, including paying for their hospital treatment and travel expenses. They arranged for Andrew to be transferred from Germany back to Edinburgh so they could be closer to the rest of their family.

Suzie Hutchinson, chief executive of the charity Little Heart Matters, said: "This used to be inoperable, but now about 65 per cent live to the age of five. They are improving treatments all the time."

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