Heart surgery

Clacton boy Rocco, 1, ‘incredibly well’ after heart surgery

A BRAVE baby boy who underwent open heart surgery just a year after birth is doing ‘incredibly well’ and his parents ‘wouldn’t change him for the world’.

Rocco Dowsett, from Clacton, was born at the height of the coronavirus pandemic on September 11, 2020 at Colchester Hospital.

In the months before he was born, his mother, Leah Purkiss, 21, was scared after doctors ‘found something’ following an ultrasound.

After further analysis, however, she was first told that it was just a shadow, that her baby was healthy and there was nothing to worry about.

But just hours after he was born, Rocco was given the blue light at London’s Royal Brompton Hospital and his parents, including his father Alfie, were unsure whether he would survive.

“We were taken to a room and a cardiologist explained that our son had multiple holes in his heart and instead of having two chambers he only had one,” Leah said.

“Our world has collapsed and it was the scariest experience of my life, seeing your child connected to so many machines at once, in an incubator.

“Rocco was taken to a PICU unit and I’m just saying he was crying waiting to be told what was really wrong with my son – the whole stay was a blur.”

After six days, a heavily medicated Rocco and his family returned home, but had to visit Colchester Hospital fortnightly.

Following a routine checkup by Rocco’s nurse a year later, the one-year-old’s parents learned that his condition had worsened.

He then underwent eight-hour open-heart surgery, but then had to undergo another operation the same week due to fluid buildup.

Much to his parents’ relief, however, Rocco returned home for good 14 days later.

“He’s recovered incredibly well and he has no more nurses or medication, just a check-up every year,” Leah added.

“Rocco will have heart disease for the rest of his life but it made him who he is today and Alfie and I wouldn’t change him for the world.”


Leah and Alfie have now organized a charity car show to be held in aid of Brompton Fountain, the charity associated with the Royal Brompton Hospital.

Sponsored by Torque Show, the event will take place at the Suffolk Aviation Heritage Museum on August 21 from 11am.

Leah said: “Rocco loves his cars and goes to car shows every weekend – he has a miniature Lamborghini car that he drives and that’s how people recognize him.

“The fundraiser is for car enthusiasts, just like Rocco, in the hope of raising as much money as possible for the Brompton Fountain.”