Rosanna Joan Ogden, learned to swim before she could walk – at 13 months old. Amazingly this came barely a year after having life saving open heart surgery.
The cheery little girl now fronts the Fylde’s British Heart Foundation’s Little Hearts campaign.
Water baby Rosanna is back on the Fylde coast tomorrow, doing her bit to raise awareness that heart conditions, or other health issues, can affect children too.
Rosanna lives in Adlington, but Blackpool is virtually her second home, given her dad Mick’s motor diesel business bringing him to the Fylde coast regularly.
She’s even had an Eddie Stobart truck named after her – Rosanna Joan. Her parents Mick and Sanam admit: “We call her Ro-Ro but Eddie Stobart doesn’t like using nicknames.”
Tomorrow she will shine as the BHF’s poster girl – the water babe of a campaign to raise awareness of childhood heart defects and other issues. The fact she is one of the fastest tots under water, and regularly clocks up 100m swims, has hit the headlines globally, and won the BHF Little Hearts campaign even greater recognition.
Medics recommended Rosanna learn to swim to keep her heart healthy after extensive surgery at Alder Hey Hospital, Liverpool, saved her life by removing a tumour when she was six weeks old.
Mick explains: “It had moved about in her blood, effectively closing parts of her heart. To all intents and purposes she was a normal healthy baby, although tired and looking a little jaundiced, which is now understandable. Doctors picked up something not quite right about her breathing, and a scan found something wrong,
“We got her to specialists at Manchester Children’s Hospital immediately. She was transferred from Manchester to Alder Hey. It saved her life. Specialists told us she was probably just days, even hours, away from becoming what would have been described as yet another cot death.”
Mick and Sanam were deeply shaken by the experience of not only learning their little girl was at death’s door but in a ward with 19 other children, and yet more on the waiting list.
Mick adds: “There were 20 beds, and they were all full. And they have been full every time we have gone back with her to show the nurses how well she is doing. It’s a ward which specialises in children with heart problems, so that shows how important the Little Hearts campaign is, because people don’t think it happens to children.
“We didn’t think it happened to children. We’d have given anything for the kind of guidance the heart foundation can offer, but there were no posters like this one, of our little girl, around then. We learned the hard way. Now, thanks to Rosanna, perhaps more parents won’t have to.”
Tomorrow morning the family will be at Lytham’s BHF shop, on Clifton Street, to support a fundraising drive as the month-long Little Hearts campaign comes to an end.
The event starts at 10.30am. Mick reckons Rosanna will be along around 11am. “We will be there for much of the day. Rosanna loves meeting people because they make such a fuss of her. We’ve already visited the charity shops at St Annes and Blackpool and Cleveleys – we also had an event at Blackpool North station, where she was invited to go on the driver platform of a steam engine.
“She’s not keen on being prodded and patted and picked up, but she is certainly aware she is something special. She can now walk and talk a little, too.”
Sanam adds: “You wouldn’t think it was the same child I took all wired up and cradled in my arms when she was transferred to Liverpool’s Alder Hey.
“Her operation lasted eight hours. She stayed that night in ICU and three days after, came home. It all happened in a week, the worst week of our lives.”
Rosanna’s diagnosis was a rare tumour called rhabdomyoma within the heart muscle. It usually regresses as children grow, but for Rosanna, it was life threatening.
Mick adds: “We wanted to do our bit to help the foundation. My wife’s a swimmer and wanted to get Ro-Ro started early. It really helped build her up. Her speed and stamina is phenomenal under water – she even smiles and tries to talk underwater. She’s taken part in swims to raise money for BHF. She’s learning to hold her head above water too. She’s our miracle water baby, and we reckon one day she will swim for Britain.”
n For more information go to www.Rosannaogden.com or www.facebook.com/Rosanna.ogden and www.bhf.org.uk