SURVIVING major heart surgery as a baby is miraculous enough, but for brave Rosanna Ogden, she had to go one step — or stroke — further.
Dubbed a real-life “water baby”, Rosanna amazed her parents when she was able to swim unaided at only two years old after recovering from a rare, non-cancerous heart tumour.
She went on to become one of the youngest children to swim 600 metres unaided and is set to top the thousands of pounds she has already raised for the British Heart Foundation.
The youngster, and her parents, are now organising a huge sponsored swim for the charity next month — one of the first of its kind in the North West.
Rosanna, aged four, swims most days at the Georgian House Hotel, in Blackrod, and can do front crawl and butterfly, as well as dive into the water.
But mum Sally Ogden says she cannot forget the terrifying day when doctors discovered Rosanna’s tumour.
Mrs Ogden, aged 31, said: “Rosanna was born at the Royal Bolton Hospital and everything was normal.
“It wasn’t until we went to register her with a GP that we realised something wasn’t right.
“We were sent back to the Royal Bolton for a scan. Again, something was wrong and she was rushed to Manchester to see a heart specialist.
“That’s when they told us she had a tumour and that she would need emergency surgery. This is all happened within a day.
“It was very scary for us, especially when they started to wire Rosanna up to all the machinery. We didn’t know what was going to happen.”
The tumour was blocking 70 per cent of the blood flowing to Rosanna’s heart — who was only six weeks old at the time.
The youngster had to undergo an eight-hour operation at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, in Liverpool, to remove the tumour.
Surgeons were not able to remove all of it, but managed to take enough away to stop the blockage.
As part of her recovery, doctors recommended swimming to boost Rosanna’s strength.
Little did Mrs Ogden and her husband, Mick, know, that Rosanna would become a young swimming sensation.
She joined a “water babies” class in Bolton, and was such a natural that she was soon jumping, diving and swimming underwater.
Her parents decided to hire a private instructor for her, who has helped Rosanna learn front crawl, backstroke and butterfly.
Mrs Ogden, of Babylon Lane, Anderton, said: “Rosanna is happiest when she’s in the water. She just loves it. When she is at home, she’s very quiet and shy. But when she’s swimming, she comes into her own. People cannot believe it when they see her in the water. She’s so tiny, but she just swims and swims.
“Rosanna is still a heart patient, which makes it even more amazing. That’s why we want to raise £20,000 for the British Heart Foundation. We feel very strongly about research.”
The family has set its sights on the 1,000-metre target and even harbours an Olympic dream for Rosanna.
Mrs Ogden said: “She’s so good we really think she has the potential to become an Olympic gold medallist. That’s the dream.
“It’s funny because her little sister Suzanna hates water.”
For now, the Ogdens are drumming up support for Rosanna’s sponsored swim on Saturday, August 16, at the David Lloyd centre in Chorley, which is donating use of the pool for free.
Clare Cassidy, community fundraising manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Heart problems can affect anyone at any age, even newborn babies. The research we fund is developing new treatments to help these children survive and grow up. We are delighted to see Rosanna doing so well and it’s only through the fundraising efforts of people like Rosanna’s mum Sally that we are able to keep finding breakthroughs to help save more lives.”
For more information about the sponsored swim, or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.