ONE very small birth defect has led to some very big operations for one Lake Macquarie infant.
Sharlie Boyce is only seven months old and has already had three major operations, after she was born without a nasal cavity.
The Woodrising girl was born with bilateral choanal artresia, a condition where bone blocks both nasal cavities at the bridge of her nose.
Before she was two weeks old, she’d had two operations. Doctors inserted stents to allow her to breathe.
They will need to do another to reopen her nasal passage in the coming weeks, after it closed because of tissue damage.
About one in 8000 babies is born with one nasal passage blocked.
But it is rarer for both to be blocked and can be fatal. Doctors would only perform such a surgery once every two years.
Complicating matters is that Sharlie was also born with two holes in her heart.
Her heart stopped when she was two weeks old, but doctors were able revive her.
She had major surgery at Westmead Hospital to close the holes. But she still needs a feeding tube, because babies with heart defects burn more energy.
Mother Alysia said she hoped Sharlie would be finished with her surgeries by her first birthday and could lead a healthy life.
However, the stress of the past seven months had taken its toll on the family of five.
Alysia keeps Sharlie close by and wakes every three hours to check she is breathing.
‘‘Hopefully, at the moment, [the operation is] doing what it’s supposed to do,’’ she said.
She and husband Rod wanted to thank staff at John Hunter Hospital and Westmead Children’s Hospital for their support.
Rod recently won a gym membership at Genesis Fitness after his brother-in-law Daniel Craft nominated him for supporting his family during such a tough time.