Op D-Day looms for heart boy Darren

Darren Bandcroft meets Buzz Lightyear at Disneyland Paris
Darren Bandcroft meets Buzz Lightyear at Disneyland Paris

A LITTLE Wigan boy born with his major organs the wrong way round will undergo a high-risk op that will decide his future within weeks.

Darren Bandcroft is just back from a dream holiday in Disneyland Paris which was originally to have taken place after surgery. But with only a 50-50 survival chance, doctors at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool recommended to his family that they go beforehand.

Thousands of pounds were raised for the Beech Hill six-year-old’s trip, including council workmen taking part in the Manchester 10k run, a events held by his school, Mab’s Cross Primary, collections by the Yorkshire Bank and a fun day at Poolstock’s Honeysuckle pub.

In the end his main carer, auntie Wendy Heaton, decided to spend only half of the proceeds on the Paris trip and sub the rest out of her savings. The remainder will be kept in reserve in the hope that he will be well enough to fly to America after his operation to Walt Disney World Florida.

In the meantime the family, which also includes dad Francis, sister Phoebe and aunt Sherre Harrison, are waiting for a date for a double procedure at Alder Hey which has never been performed before.

One is the latest in a series of ops called a fontan to re-plumb his heart. The other is a diplication to anchor Darren’s loose diaphragm which improves the chances of the fontan’s working.

Both are familiar enough if risky and complex pieces of surgery, but have never been carried out at the same time before.

If successful they should prolong his life by several years. Further prolongation, however, would require a heart transplant and the waiting lists are very long. Sadly, even with a transplant, he could not expect a normal human lifespan.

Darren suffers from a number of other physical conditions too but Wendy says that the most difficult problems of late have been autistic ones. He has developed sudden, inexplicable phobias, one of which prevented him from going on some of the Disneyland rides. But he still had a terrific time.

Wendy said: “On the doctors’ advice we brought forward the Disney trip to before the operation but we have held back half the money so there is still the incentive of Florida if all goes well at hospital.

“We are so grateful to everyone for making the Paris trip possible. He loved the characters and the shows and would love to go to Florida too.

“We know that come December there is going to be a very long and complicated double procedure that will not fix everything but will buy him time. It is nerve-racking to say the least.”