Couple name daughter who ‘died for 77 minutes’ after hospital that saved her – Today News

 The Duchess of Cambridge chuckled as impish Evalina Cox grabbed her attention.  They shared a loving cuddle then Evie interrupted the royal visitor. And interrupted her again. and again. and again  Mum-of-three Kate, who was trying to chat to other patients at a children’s hospital, thought it was hilarious and showered the delightful tot with attention  Each smile and each hug from Kate meant the world to Evie – and to her parents, Jo and Justin  They will never forget the day their brave daughter “died” on an operating table for 77 minutes  Her recovery would be long and arduous. And the meeting with Kate was a reward for Evie’s courage and straightforward refusal to give up  Fitting, then that her parents named her Evalina – as a thank-you to Evelina London Children’s Hospital for saving her  Just weeks before meeting Kate, Evie had undergone yet more surgery – a major heart operation  It was the culmination of a traumatic journey that started when a 20-week scan showed a problem  Evie, now two, had a rare combination of life-threatening heart defects. But the Evelina’s marvellous team would save her  Thrilled Jo, 41, told the Sunday Mirror: “Calling her Evalina was our way of giving thanks for everything their amazing doctors and nurses had done for us  “We had chosen the name Evie for if we had a girl, but after receiving such incredible care from the staff at Evelina we decided we wanted to name her after the hospital  “It was our way of giving thanks for everything their amazing doctors and nurses had done for us  “We know she wouldn’t be here without them. We added our own stamp by changing the spelling slightly and we call her Evie for short But calling her Evalina is our special tribute to the hospital.”  The mum recalled the grim day Evie underwent her first life-saving operation, followed by open heart surgery at just six weeks old  Evie technically “died” for 77 minutes but, miraculously, was revived.  In the difficult weeks that followed she suffered a stroke, seizures and a collapsed lung  But the biggest operation came last November when, aged 19 months, two surgeons carried out a procedure they had performed only 10 times before – fixing a defect known as transposition of the great arteries (TGA)  The condition, which affects 150 babies in the UK every year, meant Evie’s two main blood vessels, the pulmonary artery and the aorta, were the wrong way round  Open-heart surgery to fix the defect is challenging enough, but was made even more difficult because Evie was also born with one coronary artery instead of two  The operation was a success. And battling Evie recovered so quickly that she was discharged from the Evelina Hospital in just six days  Now the energetic toddler has been given a clean bill of health and won’t need another op until she is a teenager Jo, a hypnobirthing instructor from Margate, Kent, added: “Evie is incredible. She ­literally runs rings around all the other kids now  “It was like for the first 19 months of her life she was doing altitude training, surviving on only 80 per cent oxygen, and now she’s come out fitter and healthier than anyone else  “She doesn’t stop. She was playing with her cousins the other day and they said they couldn’t keep up with her – she had tired them out  “She is just so full of life and fun to be around.”  Evie’s love of cuddles was what grabbed the Duchess of Cambridge’s attention last December  Kate is a patron of the Evelina Hospital and she and husband Prince William were there to kick-start ­celebrations for its 150th anniversary this year  The hospital was founded in 1869 as Evelina Hospital for Sick Children by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild, whose wife, Evelina, died along with their baby in childbirth  Jo said: “It was about a month after her big-fix operation when Evie was invited back to the hospital to meet Kate and William  “As soon as Kate came into the room Evie ran up to her and then when Kate moved on to chat to other kids Evie went over and tapped her on the back to get another cuddle  “Evie would have had no idea who Kate was and there were hundreds of people in the room, but it was Kate who she was drawn to She kept on handing her pencils and crayons.  “Kate’s reaction was lovely. She found it funny when Evie kept interrupting her and would just bring her in to join in the conversation  “You could tell she was really good with children. She was just really natural and lovely ”  Jo recalled the 20-week scan and the shock that followed when they were referred to Evelina  She went on: “We weren’t expecting them to find anything wrong, we just thought it was routine  “So when we were told at Evelina that there was a major problem with our baby’s heart, it was a complete shock  “The day after I didn’t stop crying. There were so many different defects – it was just too much to take in and we expected the worst ”  But using hypnobirthing techniques helped Jo to stay calm and relaxed during pregnancy and labour She and Justin managed to stay positive – though Evie’s open-heart surgery at six weeks old tested them to the limit  Jo said: “They had allowed us to stay with her and watch. When she had a massive cardiac arrest it was just awful  “You see these things on TV and in films and it was as if we were in some kind of surreal nightmare The doctors were saying they were doing their best, they were doing everything they could  “And I was just thinking, ‘That’s what they say on TV when the person is going to die’ All these thoughts were going through my head. I was thinking about having to tell our family she was gone, I was thinking about the funeral  “But miraculously she pulled through. We will never ever be able to thank everyone at Evelina enough ”  PE teacher Justin, 50, added: “You wouldn’t know she’d been through so much. We’ve always treated her like any other child She’s so strong-willed and determined.  “We have trouble holding her back sometimes – it’s just onwards and upwards now ” To find out how Evelina London will be celebrating its special birthday, click here

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