At only two years of age, the sweet and social Arlo exudes confidence and a mischievous sense of humour. But, without looking closely, one would never guess that Arlo was born with only half a heart. Hypoplastic right heart syndrome and five other cardiac issues make up his complex diagnosis; his heart did not form properly on the right side.
When Arlo‘s Hoppers Crossing parents, Bronte and Romi, found out about his heart condition during the 23–week ultrasound scan, Bronte‘s once-normal pregnancy became high–risk in a split second.
After the fetal echocardiogram, the sonographer was almost speechless. So, at 25–weeks gestation, Arlo‘s journey at The Royal Children‘s Hospital began. Bronte and Romi were told of the risks, yet they still had faith in the hospital staff.
Arlo, born blue and just six days old, had to be admitted right away and put on oxygen and a nasal gastric tube. This was the start of their new life—one that no amount of preparation could prepare them for.
The nightmare didn‘t end there; Bronte fainted in POD 1 due to the shock of her son‘s sickness and was taken away in an ambulance. Four days later, Arlo was rushed into an emergency surgery and Romi got a wheelchair to take Bronte between the two hospitals to see both of her children.
The COVID–19 lockdown made it even worse, as only one parent was allowed to visit at a time. Anelita‘s grandmothers took care of her at home, while Bronte and Romi would swap keys in the car park to see their children.
At four months old, Arlo was discharged, but only for three days before he had to be rushed back to the hospital due to his oxygen saturation being at 30%. The second major surgery was not expected for another year, but it had to be done to save his life.
After a lengthy stint in the hospital, Arlo was finally able to come home, thanks to the hospital–in–the–home program, Wallaby.
Unfortunately, another setback came in the form of bacterial meningococcal meningitis, and he had to stay in the hospital for another four months.
Today, Arlo still has many medical issues, but the family have learnt to appreciate the small things. After two years of feeding tubes, he has finally started to enjoy food and is nutritionally stable.
Watch Arlo's journey here!
Despite low energy levels, he plays and socialises, and the family have to be incredibly vigilant. Arlo is expected to have his final surgery in the next 18 months, the Fontan procedure, which will hopefully enable him to have a modified blood circulation and lead a long and healthy life.
Through all this, Bronte and Romi have endured the unimaginable and realised that plans can be difficult to make due to Arlo‘s condition. But, the silver lining is that they now appreciate more than ever the precious moments of family time.