Birthday milestone for fighter Toby

Sophie Dring and her son Toby''w133603
Sophie Dring and her son Toby''w133603

A baby who was born with a rare heart condition and wasn’t expected to survive more than two hours will celebrate his second birthday on Sunday.

Toby Dring was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome in 2010 which affects just one in 5000 babies and means the left side of the heart fails to develop properly.

Mum Sophie was advised by one hospital to terminate the pregnancy but decided to give Toby a fighting chance and against all the odds and a number of operations later he and his family are planning a trip to Flamingo Land to celebrate.

She told the Gazette: “We literally don’t know how long we have got Toby for so for him to get to two is amazing. It is hard when you meet other parents whose children had the same condition and they lose their children. We just think how lucky we are to have him really.”

It has been a rocky ride and there were moments where Sophie and her family, of Upgang Lane, wondered if Toby would make it.

At 22 hours old he became the youngest person to undergo heart surgery where he had a procedure, carried out at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, to widen the chambers in the heart.

The following 48 hours were crucial and he pulled through but it was when he had the operation repeated at 11 weeks old that Sophie feared she would lose her son.

She added: “Instead of being in hospital for just a week it was eight weeks and I really didn’t think he was coming home at that time. His condition can just change in a second, the weather can affect it.

“If it is really windy he can’t breathe so that becomes a stay in day.”

While he is without doubt a fighter, Toby falls behind with his development compared to other kids. He can’t attend normal playgroups because he is at a high risk of getting infections and so his speech and walking are limited.

He has to take medication daily and will have to have a heart transplant at some point in the future.

But, he loves animals, balls and cars and to Sophie is a normal little boy.

She added: “To me now, Toby is a normal little boy. Everyone else sees the scar and when he is in hospital you do realise how poorly he is.

“Anyone else coming into our life would think ‘what on earth is going on’ but for us - it is just normal.”

To mark Toby’s second birthday and her 50th birthday this year, his grandma Jackie Dring is going to be taking part in the Great North Run, a week on Sunday.

She will be running the 13.1 miles with her niece and Toby’s godmother, Abby Betts and her sister, Tracy Sanderson in aid of the Children’s Heart Unit Fund at the Freeman Hospital.

None of the trio have ever done a challenge like it before and are training at least three times a week to get their mileage up and hope to raise at least £1,000 between the three of them.

She said: “We are nervous because we have never done anything like it before but they say the adrenalin takes you through the first couple of miles and after that we just don’t know.

“I am looking forward to the day but not to doing it.

“Toby was born in Newcastle, his treatment is in Newcastle so if we were going to do something it was this.

“We are not in it to win it but just to finish it and hope we meet Ant and Dec at the end.”