A MUM and dad faced every parent's worst fears on Christmas Eve when their three-month-old son was wheeled into surgery to fix his heart.

Chris and Sarah Wilkin from Wantage said life was ‘unimaginable’, when their newborn son Arthur had to be rushed in to have open heart surgery.

The youngster was diagnosed with a congenital heart condition soon after being born, and found to have two holes in his heart.

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Mrs Wilkin, 32, said: “This came totally out of the blue, as there was no prior family history.

“We were under a cardiac specialist at the John Radcliffe Hospital. We were told fairly early on there was a strong chance of Arthur needing surgery, which we didn’t want.

“It was such a worrying time. However, Arthur got so poorly – he was breathless, lethargic and was being tube-fed – so we realised that surgery was the only way he could survive and have a better quality of life.”

The youngsters was cared for at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital while the family were able to stay on site at the Ronald McDonald House with three-year-old son Luke. The surgery was undertaken at Southampton Hospital.

Arthur was in hospital for a further eight days over Christmas and had to be fed through a tube during his recovery.

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Now he is a ‘happy and healthy’ 11-month-old and his parents say he is ‘crawling, babbling, and laughing’ – something they put down to the incredible care and support from hospital staff.

As a 'thank you', Mr and Mrs Wilkin are among the thousands taking on British Heart Foundation’s Blenheim Palace fundraising run on September 29.

The palace will host a half marathon, 10K, and 2K fun run to raise money for vital research.

Mrs Wilkin will take on the 2K fun run with Arthur and Luke cheering her on, and Chris will be tackling the hilly half marathon around the estate.

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Mrs Wilkin said: “I think the atmosphere is going to be brilliant.”

She added: “We know how heart disease can literally happen to anyone and any time and we really want to help fund research that will help families like ours in the future.”

About 5,000 runners are expected to help raise fund for research into all heart and circulatory conditions.

Sign up at bhf.org.uk/blenheim or donate at justgiving.com/fundraising/Sarah-Wilkin3