A baby who suffered complications following an intricate heart operation made a miraculous recovery after he was FROZEN for four days.
Medics were astounded when 16-week-old Finley Burton pulled through after he was put on an external pacemaker and frozen to stop any shivering disturbing the device.
They made the unusual decision to lower his body temperature to just 33.4C as his heart went into junctional ectopic tachycardia - a severe type of heart rhythm – after the operation to repair a large hole in his heart.
"It was very frightening. We thought we were going to lose him," said mum Donna Link-Emery, 27.
"His heart was beating really quickly and we prayed he would survive."
"But amazingly the freezing process seemed to work and after four days his heart started to maintain a normal rhythm again."
Donna and partner Aaron Burton, 31, had taken Finley to the doctor when he was 10 weeks old because he was not putting on much weight and had breathing difficulties.
The little baby was referred to the University Hospital of North Durham.
"I had a normal pregnancy and nothing was picked up on any of my scans so I was expecting it to be a routine visit," said Donna.
But the consultant listened to Finley’s heart and thought he could hear a murmur so sent him for an echo cardiogram, an ECG and an X ray.
They discovered he had a large hole at the top of his heart and a small one at the bottom.
The next day Finley was transferred to Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, where they also found he had an aortic coarctation - a narrowing of the hearts main artery.
He was given emergency surgery the following day.
Finley had two operations to block the larger hole and correct the artery, but when he came round, there were complications.
His heart went into junctional ectopic tachycardia (JET), a very rapid heart rhythm which can be fatal.
Doctors lowered Finley’s temperature to try to stabilise his heart rate then fitted an external pacemaker and had to paralyse him so he would not disturb the machine.
"They put him in a little bag which allowed air to flow around his body and he was kept like that for four days," said Donna.
"It was all so sudden and upsetting. Nothing at all prepares you for seeing your baby in hospital like that. I just cried.
"Then he was gradually weaned out of his paralysis and his temperature was brought back to normal as his heart started to beat properly again."
Medics were astounded the little tot had survived.
After 12 days in hospital Finley was allowed to go home and is now recovering well, with check-ups every eight weeks.
"We were told he may have to be in hospital for six weeks so we were stunned when they said he could leave so quickly," said Donna.
"Now he’s doing really well and has already put on lots of weight."
Finley’s family is raising money for Freeman Hospital’s Children's Heart United Fund.
Anyone wishing to donate to the fund can visit www.justgiving.com/Donna-Link-Emery.