A COUPLE lost their baby son and daughter to the same rare heart condition within 18 months of each other.
Natasha Halkett was devastated when lost her first child to the heart defect – which occurs in fewer than one in every 10,000 births.
The 21-year-old then suffered a miscarriage before having her second child – only for him to die of the same condition just over a fortnight later.
Both babies suffered from a condition called truncus arteriosus type II, a congenital heart defect which requires open heart surgery in infancy for the child to stand any chance of surviving.
Natasha and partner David Clark, 45 of Dunfermline, Fife, twice faced the heartbreaking decision to switch off the babies’ life support after surgery failed.
Doctors picked up on the first child’s condition at Natasha’s 20-week-scan, discovering she had a hole in her heart.
Just two days after Layla was born in July 2012 the couple received the devastating news that their daughter would not pull through.
They were told all doctors could do was make her comfortable and try to prolong her life as much as they could.
Natasha made the heart wrenching decision to turn off the bypass machine that was keeping their four-month-old alive.
“After Layla passed away they just said it could be a one off, so I thought we should try for another child,” Natasha added.
“But then I had my son and he ends up with the same condition.
“We were so shocked when we got told this as we were told he was a healthy wee boy.
“It was just the same nightmare again.
“It has been really tough.
“They said he was fine but he had the same condition as his sister, I would like to make all parents aware that the scans don’t pick up everything.”
The couple were relieved that initial scans revealed no heart problems with their son David Junior.
However after his birth hospital doctors suspected he may have a heart murmur.
Further tests confirmed he was suffering from the same rare heart defect as his late sister, he required an operation but complications arose.
Surgeons discovered that the two-week-old’s heart was not strong enough for him to pull through and he died on 21st December.
Truncus arteriosus type II means a child is born with abnormal development of the blood vessels which emerge from the heart.
The child will initially suffer from heart failure, which manifest as rapid breathing, poor feeding and failure to gain weight and grow properly.
Damage of the blood vessels of the lung leads to less blood flow which eventually causes death.
Doctors are now investigating if there is a genetic link that caused the rare condition to occur twice.
Leaving Natasha and David to face an anxious wait for results of blood tests before deciding whether to try for another child.
The couple now make regular visits to the cemetery in Culross, seven miles west of Dunfermline, where their two children are buried alongside each other.