Back to school for Michael after his third big heart operation

Michael Crawford
Michael Crawford

After his third major heart operation in just six years, Michael Crawford was back at school on Monday and raring to go.

He is only strong enough to attend class for an hour at a time, three days a week.

Michael with his mum Sarah, sister Pyper-Mae, and Bay Primary staff Emma Alexander, teacher Rebecca Cook and headteacher Helen Gee.

Michael with his mum Sarah, sister Pyper-Mae, and Bay Primary staff Emma Alexander, teacher Rebecca Cook and headteacher Helen Gee.

And his mum Sarah says the support from caring staff at the school has helped the family get through their difficult time.

Michael had his most recent operation in Leeds in November, and Sarah said the attitude at Bay Primary should be a blueprint for other schools which have children recovering from major surgery.

“The headteacher rang during half-term,” said Sarah. “She has been fantastic.

“He has a lovely support worker, who is amazing and couldn’t wait to see him after the operation.

Michael with headteacher Helen Gee

Michael with headteacher Helen Gee

“Other schools could learn from Bay. On the ward you talk to other parents and their schools are never as supportive.”

Michael was born with Pulmonary Atresia, which prevents blood flow to his lungs.

“He was born with congenital heart disease. We found out when I was 20 weeks pregnant that he was going to have half a heart.

“He had surgery at four days, at nine-and-a-half months and again in Novmber.

“Before his latest operation, he was very blue - his fingertips and his mouth. he was getting breathless and didn;’ have much energy.

“But now he is happy and thriving and back to normal.”

Michael was able to attend school full-time between March and July and for the first half-term of the year. But he went to shorter days as his operation approached.

“He loves school and is on a par with his peers,” said Sarah. “His work has not suffered. It’s a very long road but we are hoping he will be back full time by Easter. We just have to make sure he doesn’t do too much.”

A tutor visits him at home each week to help with his learning, but at the minute, even a one-hour lesson wears him out.

However, going back to Bay on Monday was a huge boost.

Headteacher Helen Gee said: “Michael never stops smiling and he enjoys coming to school.

“He is an absolute delight and so keen to learn and always happy when he is in school.

“We really want to support him to get the best for his future, like we do for each of our children, whatever needs they have.

“We have done a lot of research and learning ourselves about Michael’s condition.”