Little Oliver Williams is a true survivor – and his family are painting Sheffield red today to thank medics who saved his life.
The four-year-old, from Millhouses, was born with five vital arteries around his heart in the wrong place, stopping oxygen from circulating properly around his body.
Specialists raced against time to perform an emergency procedure and then, at less than two weeks old, he underwent open heart surgery lasting 10 hours.
Now he is doing well – and is joining his mum Demelza and dad Keith by supporting Wear Red Day today.
Fundraisers at schools and workplaces are wearing red outfits and making charity donations.
The Williams family are supporting the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund, which helps patients at Leeds General Infirmary’s children’s heart unit, the region’s only facility of its kind.
Oliver and many other Sheffield infants have been operated on at the unit, which almost closed last year following an NHS review, but won a reprieve.
Demelza, aged 36, a solicitor, said: “I can never thank them enough.
“If the fundraising and raising awareness helps in any way, it’s still a drop in the ocean compared to what they have given us.”
Oliver was given an arterial switch, where blood vessels are removed and placed in the right position.
Demelza, who also has two daughters with Keith - Grace, six, and 16-month-old Connie – said: “He may need further surgery but hopefully not in childhood.”
The mum was warned Oliver might be brain-damaged as a result of the surgery – but nursery teachers say he is a clever boy.
She said: “He’s excellent with numbers and is starting to read, despite it being another nine months before he will start school.
Keith, 38, an IT engineer for South Yorkshire Police, is wearing red with colleagues today, while Demelza’s employer, law firm Bell and Buxton, has a fashion show planned. Children at Oliver’s nursery are also spending the day in red costumes.