Ramsgate family say sad farewell to brave toddler ‘Warrior’ Wes

A Ramsgate family have paid tribute to their ‘warrior’ son after he tragically died of heart failure aged just 16 months.

Wesley Gibson was born with myriad heart conditions which his surgeon says were the most complex he had seen.
But Wesley was a happy, smiling baby who rarely cried, despite the pain he endured. He was developing well, learning to brush his teeth and walk with a stroller.

However, medical staff at the Evelina children’s hospital in London had to bring forward a lifesaving operation, called the Glenn procedure, as the toddler’s condition deteriorated due to a leaking heart valve.

Moving floral tribute

The complex surgery to reroute his arteries – as he was born with them the wrong way round – had been due to be performed at age two.
Dad Matthew said: “The operation was a complete success and the next day he was trying to get out of his crib and fighting the sedation. We thought the worst was over.”

Sadly their joy was short-lived. Mum Sophia received a call at 4am to say Wesley had gone into arrest.“I came up and there were doctors and nurses everywhere,” she said. “They brought him back but in doing so undid the work performed in the operation so it had to be re-done. Despite the surgery going well it was too much for Wesley and he remained on life support.

“I asked for a second opinion from Newcastle hospital and was waiting to hear back from them about a heart transplant but he then contracted a viral infection.”

Wesley after his operation

Devastated Matthew and Sophia then had to make the decision to switch off the machine. “I wanted him to die in my arms,” said Sophia, who is also mum to eight-year-old Alisha. Fighting back the tears, she added: “We just wanted to swap places with him. “The photo of him with all the machines just shows how much he was fighting to stay alive. When they took the tubes away it was so quick.”

After Wesley died the family were told by the hospital they could spend time together at Demelza Children’s Hospice. Matthew said: “We received so much support from them and we could spend time with Wes as he was kept in a refrigerated room and it was also good for Alisha who has been so strong.”

Sophia added: “It was Matthew’s birthday so we made memory boards for him and another for Wes. You couldn’t fault the staff and all the nurses and doctors; they have known him for such a long time. “We want people to know about Demelza as we had no idea about the support they offered and to raise awareness of Wesley’s heart condition – I had not even heard of it until he was born.”

Matthew added: “You would never think to look at him that there was anything wrong with him. He was such a happy baby. “I am glad he made our wedding in September. We can all learn from him – his strength and spirit lives on in us.”

Warrior Wes was laid to rest at Ramsgate cemetery on March 21.