Posted by Siobhán Holliman, Tuam Herald in News.

A busy, smiling boy in Brierfield, Moylough, who is looking forward to his second birthday is unaware of how he underwent a life-saving heart operation in the first week of his life.

Energetic Martin Fleming loves keeping an eye on his younger 10-month-old sister Emma but it wasn’t that long ago when he was under the careful watch of the medical team at Crumlin Childrens Hospital in Dublin.

The day after Martin was born his mother Brenda noticed that he wasn’t feeding and was sleeping a lot. She immediately alerted a nurse when Martin began to turn a grey-blue colour. It was a frightening time for the first-time mum who within an hour was with her husband following an ambulance carrying her newborn son to hospital in Dublin.

“They checked his oxygen stats and suspected that the arteries going into his heart were the wrong way round,” explains Brenda, who admits Martin’s deterioration was a huge and terrifying shock.

When Martin arrived at Crumlin he had a slight infection which prevented the team operating.

However, an interim procedure was carried out and along with medication, kept his condition stable until he was well enough for the operation.

“It was a very tough time. It was pretty horrendous,” says Brenda. While Martin’s operation was a success there was a complication after surgery which meant the surgeons had to leave his chest open for a few days.

No first-time parents know what to expect when baby arrives but seeing their little boy hooked up to monitors in an ICU certainly wasn’t what Brenda and husband Michael had envisaged.

Brenda has enormous praise for the staff at Crumlin where they ended up staying for the first six weeks of Martin’s life.

For the first few days the couple stayed in hospital accommodation but then were fortunate enough to be allocated a room in the Ronald McDonald Family House on the grounds of the hospital.

“I had just given birth so it was fantastic to be able to have our own room and shower facilities within a stone’s throw of Martin,” recalls Brenda. The couple never felt like they were away from their newborn son as the house was within a few minutes of the ICU.

“Being able to stay in the house made such a huge difference. Whenever we came back from being with Martin there was always food cooked and everyone just helped themselves.

“They were fantastic when visitors came to see us. We could sit and have a cup of tea and chat in a living room,” added Brenda, who was grateful for the sense of normality that being in the house brought.

Brenda and Michael are so grateful for the support and care they received in Crumlin and in the Ronald McDonald House, they want to help give something back,

This is the main reason behind a 12-hour Spin-a-thon she is organising in Core Fitness in the Claregalway Hotel on Saturday, April 23rd.

Brenda is the manager of the gym there and is urging people to participate and support the fun fundraiser which she assures only requires a person to cycle on the bike for 30 minutes.

“You don’t have to be very fit, any level of pedal power will be perfect.”

Brenda will be joined by other local families who have also benefitted from staying at the Ronald McDonald House while their children have been cared for in Crumlin Hospital.

Looking at Martin run about the garden and play on his slide, it’s hard to imagine how sick he was.

He has made great progress and while his discharge was delayed due to a clot, he successfully came through that problem too.

“He’s absolutely brilliant. He loves climbing up on everything and is never too far from his baby sister,” says a happy Brenda.

While the medical team keep a watchful eye on Martin’s condition with a check-up every three months, Brenda assures he’s a very happy and lively little boy.

Anyone interested in getting involved in the fundraising event, can contact 091 738 220.