Alfie Howell was born with a hole in his heart which, the surgeons decided, was letting him hold onto his life, in spite of the other major heart problems he has.
The 19-month old infant was born with three major problems in his heart. Besides the hole, he had pulmonary stenosis, thickening of an artery, and a third condition, transposition of the great arteries which means the arteries were pumping deoxygenated blood around his body, since the blood cannot get oxygen. Having these different problems could only happen one person in 100,000 cases, and Alfie is that one.
Fortunately for him, when he was taken in for an open heart surgery at Leeds General Infirmary's children's heart centre, his surgeons decided to keep the hole open, so that the blood can get the oxygen directly from the lungs. It is this decision that has kept the little boy alive.
His mother, 27-year old Anna Goldston shows her gratitude by supporting a campaign to save the hospital where her son was helped, and which is threatened with closure. In a move to cut down on the number of children's specialist heart centers in England, the government is planning to close the LGI centre. If it succeeds in this bid, little ones like Alfie would have to travel quite some distance to Newcastle to get treated.
Alfie and his mom, along with many others, are actively involved to prevent this from happening.