Little ‘champ’ Daniel battles his way through early health scares

Daniel with big sister Eva.
Daniel with big sister Eva.
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The family of a Tandragee boy who was born last year with a life-threatening heart condition are holding a charity concert to raise money for the Children’s Heartbeat Trust.

Stephanie and Martin Monaghan, watched their son Daniel (18 months) battle through open heart surgery, a bowel infection, a twice perforated bowel and septicaemia, all within his first eight months.

is taking place at Tandragee Junior High School tonight (Thursday) at 7.45pm.

The top performers include Gary Gamble, Country Harmony, Jordan Mogey, Richie Remo and Box Car Brian.

The concert has been organised by the family of 18-month-old Tandragee boy Daniel Monaghan as a message of appreciation for the fantastic care he received shortly after he was born.

Born on March 25, 2014, with Down’s Syndrome, Daniel had a large hole in his heart, known as a complete Atrioventricular Septal Defect, and his parents were told he would have to wait until he was six months old to undergo heart surgery in London.

However, on 12th May, the first of a string of complications arrived.

“Daniel struggled to breathe, swallow and suck at the same time resulting in him not feeding and vomiting,” his parents said.

“He was admitted to Clark Clinic in the Royal where an NG feeding tube was passed.

“We got back home and on Father’s Day he started vomiting again and had breathing difficulties. We rushed to Craigavon where he was admitted and given oxygen, nebulisers and medicine.”

With no beds available in the Royal, a 48 hour wait at Craigavon followed before being rushed to Belfast by ambulance.

“At this stage Daniel was really struggling and tired so they decided to put him on a life support machine to give him a rest,” continued his parents.

With the situation reaching desperate levels, Daniel was booked in for heart surgery in London, despite still being under the normal age for the procedure.

Even that didn’t proceed unhindered, however, as he contracted an infection in his bowel called necrotising enterocolitis. A life threatening infection, it left Daniel’s survival chances at 50/50. Doctors had little option but to operate, despite doubts his young heart could sustain the anaesthetic.

“Daniel went for the operation and our wee fighter came out the other side, sick but still alive,” recalled his parents, who then finally boarded the plane to London, where further complications were lying in wait.

“We arrived at the Evelina Children’s Hospital and were admitted to PICU. The doctors ran bloods and found that Daniel’s infection markers were on the rise again; the heart surgery was delayed until they found the source of infection.”

This turned out to be the first time Daniel’s bowel perforated, resulting in another trip to theatre followed by an ileostomy and the fitting of a stoma bag.

“A few days passed and just when we thought we had turned that corner, his bowel perforated for a second time,” said his parents. “We were utterly devastated; again our wee man was rushed to theatre where he had to have more bowel tissue removed and they re-sited the ileostomy further up.

“The bottom line was his bowel would never have got better without his heart being fixed and he was never clinically well enough for open heart surgery. It was a vicious circle.”

Finally, the opportunity arose for the long-awaited heart surgery to take place, but not without further warnings that Daniel might not make it:

“Our champ was not going down without a fight and came through once again. He was very poorly after the heart operation but after a few days you could see a massive change. For the first time in a couple of months he was taken off life support and put onto a machine to keep pressure on his airways and help him with his breathing.”

One further operation followed the family’s return to Belfast as Daniel’s ileostomy was rejoined and his stoma bag taken away as the skin around the stoma was very inflamed and sore. Even that wasn’t without its unexpected difficulties:

“Daniel was prepared for surgery once more and we eagerly awaited his return.

“He was quite sick when he came back and within 48 hours we were back on life support and told he had septicaemia and was a very sick wee boy.

“The doctors tested him for meningitis and thankfully it was negative. They gave him a cocktail of very strong antibiotics, he fought the infection and for a fifth time pulled through.

“We were discharged in November last year and although we have had a few chest infections where we have been admitted we have been home for the most part and thankfully our wee man is doing well.”

If anyone would like tickets for the event they should contact Stephanie Monaghan on 07958052129. Tickets are £10 each.