ASHLEY GORDON looked into the eyes of her baby son and told him it was OK if he didn’t want to fight any more.
It was one of the hardest things to say but she accepted that, at just 19 days old, he’d already faced one of the toughest starts in life.
Little Leo was born with a congenital heart disease. The tot had to undergo surgery six times in the space of a few weeks before losing his battle with the illness.
It was always a possibility that Leo might not survive, ever since Ashley’s 20-week scan, when difficulties were spotted with his heart.
But that didn’t make the tragedy any easier to bear.
“We knew all along that it wouldn’t be easy, but were thankful the consultants knew what to expect and I was in the hands of the specialists throughout my pregnancy,” said Ashley, 24.
“Nothing could have prepared us for losing him though. It’s one of those things that you just don’t expect to happen.” Leo was born 39 weeks into Ashley’s pregnancy by emergency caesarean section.
He was taken straight to the neonatal unit and put on medication.
A week old, he went into theatre for the first time and spent 15 hours on the operating table.
It was then that surgeons realised Leo’s heart complications were much more complex. As well as rare hypoplastic left heart syndrome, meaning it wasn’t able to pump blood around the body effectively, the wee boy had a hole in his aorta.
Administrator Ashley and partner Jamie Bruce, 29, spent their days at his bedside praying he would pull through.
“One day, he would seem to be doing well, and the next, he was critical,” said Ashley.
“He gave a good fight, but I told him that if he couldn’t do it any longer, it was okay.
“He eventually came off the life support machine and lasted 15 minutes before he passed away. He tried so hard and we just couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Just a few months after losing Leo, the grieving couple, from Alloa, Clackmannanshire, threw themselves into fundraising – and creating a lasting legacy for their son.
They set a target of £10,000 to support Ronald McDonald House, which offers a home from home to families with kids being cared for at Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Children.
Jamie spent weeks there so he could be close to Ashley and baby Leo.
“I can’t even begin to explain what a godsend this was,” Ashley said. “When you get called to your baby’s bedside to say he might not survive, it’s so important to be right there with him.
“We hope to help other families by giving them this support in their hour of need, just like it was there for us.”
The pair are almost halfway to their target with £4000 already banked.
“What happened still feels like a bad dream but we think about Leo every single day and wish he was with us every single minute,” Ashley said. “Our time together was short, but so precious.”
To donate, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/babyleo