Relief as Rihanna is on road to recovery
A COUPLE whose little girl has just had surgery to repair four holes in her heart said they are "relieved" she is now safe and well.
Rihanna Zacharkiw, aged two, has suffered from breathing problems, chest infections and a racing heartbeat all her life, her parents Michelle and Ben said.
Rihanna was diagnosed with a hole in her heart earlier this year and underwent open heart surgery to repair the problem at the end of last month.
She is now recovering well but Ben and Michelle are urging other parents to ensure their little ones aren't suffering from something more serious after Rihanna's heart problem went undetected for nearly two years.
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Ben said: "Rihanna had a scan in September which actually revealed two holes in her heart, not one as we previously thought.
"But then when she had the surgery we were told they found three big holes and one small one. We were shocked there were so many.
"We are so relieved her heart is now repaired and our worries have gone, but it's still in the back of our minds what has happened."
Rihanna had been prescribed antibiotics on numerous occasions after health professionals said she was suffering from chest infections.
The toddler had previously suffered from constant chest problems and a lack of energy which her parents now believe was linked to her heart condition.
Ben said: "We are just so glad Rihanna is better. She's already full of life and healing quickly. She's a lot more comfortable and as soon as she came out of hospital seemed to be a lot better. A big weight has been lifted from our minds."
A hole in the heart is a type of congenital heart disease (CHD).
CHD is one of the most common types of birth defect, affecting an estimated six in every 1,000 babies born in England. The cause is often never known.
Symptoms can include chest pain, shortness of breath, blue-coloured skin, particularly on the fingers, toes and lips and getting tired easily.