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    SUPPORTING CHILDREN WITH CONGENITAL HEART DISEASE

    July 2013

     

     Travelling Abroad - by Lisa Hine

     

     


    Amelia on holiday

    Booking a holiday abroad is normal for most families but when you have a child who has a heart condition that has no cure things are almost impossible or so we thought.

     

    Mallorca, two hours flight away a holiday we had taken when I was expecting Amelia a place we had visited twice and felt we knew well. (Hospital research done, in case of early labour).  In February 2012 we needed a break but felt we were unsure on how Amelia’s health was and it would be a HUGE risk to take. Nevertheless we put a deposit down on a villa – no flights just a villa. Months passed as time went on we grew increasingly aware Amelia wasn’t doing so well and the villa was to the back of our minds still no flights booked by December 2012 and only a deposit paid. 

    Amelia had through November and December been admitted to hospital three times and that was our dream of a holiday gone or was it.....

     

    January 14th 2013, our visit to Dr Uzun and after everything he gave us permission to go abroad on a two hour flight no longer  ( to do with altitude) Amelia’s saturation levels were over 80 heart rate was normal for her and all was looking good to go...You can imagine our excitement our first family holiday abroad first time on a plane for Amelia, Phoebe and Noah and it didn’t matter that Noah was only 12 months old we could now make some happy memories with Amelia.

     


    Amelia on holiday

    Things to do


    The most important part before the trip must be to get permission from your Cardiologist to fly and the relevant letters from your Cardiac Liaison Nurse stating your child’s condition and all medication and machines that need to be taken abroad and as hand luggage none should go in the case. 

     

    Travel insurance,   you have to all be on the special insurance for your child as its void if not.  We used Staysure which is specialised for pre-existing medical conditions Staysure Website - we found them helpful and although the forms seemed to cover Amelia for more than she needed or might need I felt happy that it was that way.  Her cover was £251.00 and the rest of the family £30.  We also did research on Palma hospital and surrounding hospitals (private ones seemed very impressive)  but more importantly were told that they have a good heart facility.  Other places which Dr Uzun recommends heart units for holidays are Turkey, Italy and Poland. Most of the European countries.

     


    Amelia on holiday Flights the best seats we found are at the front of the plan just more airy and Amelia was close to the toilets with her medication she needed it a lot.  We chose to fly with Easy Jet we are so glad we did as we requested disability assistance for Amelia, from the moment we booked in and went to special requirements desk we were given help all the way, a wheelchair to the plane steps all booked in boarding passes etc first, on arrival at Palma airport we had a hydraulic lift from the plane to the ground which turned into a mini coach almost transformer esk! this took us a with a Spanish air official straight to the passport control avoiding the long walk.  The same on the return journey we here were given a wheelchair for Amelia as the airport in very large.  The men and women in charge of the care of disabled people where very kind and caring, so we got on this mini coach and it lifted us again to the plane, again in Bristol we had amazing treatment when met and it was 1am - very impressed.  Well worth doing and pre-booking your seats also is a good idea.

     

    The first day at our holiday Amelia was very sick and in a lot of head pain, on the flight over we noticed her veins in her forehead were very prominent. We dealt with this although we were already calling our hospital in Cardiff on day one with INR results and this continued during our stay.  On return we discussed this with our CLN (Cardiac Liaison Nurse) and she felt that the pilot may have gone higher in altitude than should have done.  We all felt the altitude going out but on the return we were all fine especially Amelia. So this is a possibility of happening so make sure you can use your phones abroad, Paul did however I didn’t so was unable to call out – this is so important and easy to do please make sure you check before you go with your service provider don’t assume it’ll work!

     

    Our holiday from then on was a time of laughter and more laughter I have never seen Amelia so happy, her brother Jonathan and her played in the pool and yes she went blue and purple it didn’t stop her (we just wrapped her up in a duvet after) she would sleep a while but then was ready to do it all over again.  It felt like we had a child with no heart condition for 10 days she felt normal too, she/we didn’t want to come home.  Life was perfect for 10 days.  If you are thinking of travelling abroad if you have spoken to your Cardiologist and Nursing team and all is good to go and you are able financially I would recommend it whole heartedly, you can experience the pure joy and light-hearted time together while you are away.

     

    Here are some photos of how happy a heart child can be.

     

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