Family to raise £15k for baby’s life-saving heart op

Constantine Martland
Constantine Martland

A WIGAN ex-pat has launched a desperate appeal to help save the life of his severely ill son and bring him home from China.

Michael Martland from Parbold moved to the Far East in 2007 and on May 5 this year became the father to baby Constantine.

But then came the devastating news that the boy has a rare heart syndrome known as Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome, which requires a three-step heart operation to survive.

It means that he can only function with the left side of his heart with the right pretty much useless.

Immediately after his birth Constantine was taken away from his parents, Chinese policy decreeing that he needs to be isolated and on the second day Mr Martland, a Kindergarten teacher in Beijing, and wife Cath were told their son had 24 hours to live as the hospital did not have the correct resources.

As a result the distraught couple discharged their son and upgraded him to the Western-style AnZhen Hospital, with tremendous help from Mr Martland’s friend and boss Daphne Hutagalung, where doctors confirmed Constantine has a chance of life although he faces risky surgery.

Post-op survival depends on the individual and the strength of their body and Constantine needs to wait until he is a month old.

Once he has had a BT Shunt operation – which tries to start the left side of the baby’s heart beating – it should be possible for him to fly back to the UK for the second operation.

However, the couple have used all their life savings on hospital fees and are now launching a desperate appeal to raise money for their son to continue his treatment.

“We still need to raise more so Constantine can have the first operation so he can return safely to the UK for the second and third step operations,” said Mr Martland, 30.

“For the first few months, Constantine will be isolated as he cannot risk to be infected, therefore we will not be able to see him for that length of time.

“During the first few days of understanding our child’s condition, my wife and I were going through a range of emotions. I wrote a log to vent feelings and also to keep a record of everything that we’d experience so far for future reference.”

At the moment, Constantine is in a stable condition and there is a good chance he will survive such a risky procedure.

However, the family are now desperately raising funds to move him out of China to continue his treatment.

Mr Martland added: “With Constantine stable enough we contacted Helen Walker from the Alder Hey hospital who was extremely understanding with our situation.

“We had an idea to fly Constantine from Beijing to Liverpool using the SOS International Group but as it turns out that because of the severity of his condition and lack of prior insurance we could not afford to fly him out with the medical assistance.

“So at least the first operation must be performed here in Beijing, and it’s usually common for a child to be in the hospital for four months average before they are discharged. Our life savings, which were meant to be used for a return to the UK, have been spent in a matter of days. “That is why we are asking for help and donations for Constantine and other children who need similar help when insurers find it difficult to provide for them.

“We would like the readers to be aware all extra money that is donated after we reach our goal will be re-donated to other children heart foundations in the UK and China so they can also provide care that is needed during a heart wrenching time.”

A target of £15,000 has been set with a third of that being raised by the time the Wigan Evening Post went to print.

On not being able to see his son, Mr Martland said: “It is difficult for us but at the same time, we find this a painful yet small price to pay for a chance at life for our boy.

“Constantine would not be where he is without the help of people like Daphne, the team at Jia De Montessori Kindergarten (JDM) and the parents who helped us with donations, Dr Jayne Ziermann and all the staff at Oasis Hospital, Dr Helen Walker and Alder Hey and Dr Chen at Anzhen hospital.”

For more information, including how to donate, visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/uk-baby-with-hypoplastic-right-heart-syndrome-needs-your-help.