Pontefract toddler could face second heart surgery in a year

With her adorable grin and “cheeky” personality, little Minnie McHale may seem the picture of health.

Thursday, 27th February 2020, 11:44 am
Updated Thursday, 27th February 2020, 11:45 am

But the brave Pontefract tot was born with a life-threatening heart condition and had to undergo open heart surgery at just 13 days old.

Now aged seven months, doctors have warned Minnie’s worried parents that she may need a second round of the high-risk surgery over the coming months.

Mum Tara Farrar, 32, said: “We’re just waiting to find out. I’m preparing myself that she will be having it. The first was awful because she was a newborn, tiny baby but in other ways, she didn’t have a clue. I feel like this time around will be worse because she’s older and more aware.”

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Tara and Alex McHale with their daughter Minnie, who could face a second heart surgery in less than a year.

But she added: “She’s my little fighter.”

It was during Tara’s pregnancy scans that medics discovered little Minnie had a heart defect called coarctation of the aorta - a narrowing of one of the arteries which sends blood around her body.

Doctors told Tara and her fiance Alex McHale, 33, that the condition meant she was safe while in the womb but once born, would become a life-threatening emergency.

After three days of attempted inductions, Minnie was born by Caesarean section on her due date of July 19 and immediately whisked away to the neonatal unit.

With her adorable grin and cheeky personality, little Minnie McHale may seem the picture of health.

Minnie underwent open heart surgery and luckily all had gone well. She was finally allowed home to Carleton, Pontefract, on August 19.

Since then, Minnie has had frequent scans and check-ups at LGI, and Tara was taught to spot signs of any heart failure.

But recent tests have shown a leaky valve and a consultant told the family another operation was looking likely and couple be in the next couple of months.

In the meantime Tara is focusing all her attention on Minnie who she said has become a “cheeky, very happy baby”.

In October, Tara and Alex organised a music night in Castleford and raised £3,000, which was split between CHSF and The Sick Children’s Trust, which runs Eckersley House, where parents can stay while their child is at LGI.

Tara has also signed up to do a sky dive in July. To sponsor Tara visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tara-farrar.