A “MIRACLE” youngster has defied the odds after undergoing three open heart operations.

Four-year-old Alex Patience is a bundle of energy, but he has not always been that way as a rare condition left him battling heart failure when just days old.

Alex has hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a congenital defect which means the left ventricle does not work properly.

The plucky youngster is now recovering from his third operation, carried out at Birmingham Children’s Hospital last month.

Mum Kirsty, of Bamburgh Close, Radcliffe, wants to raise awareness of the signs of childhood heart defects, which can often go unnoticed when a baby is born.

Kirsty, aged 24, who also has a two-year-old son Kayden, said the pregnancy and birth were normal but hours after Alex was born he began vomiting blood.

Doctors could not work out what was wrong and Alex was brought home at one week old, but Kirsty knew something was not right.

She said: “He was not feeding and would just sleep all the time. He was always cold and looked blue.

“Because he was my first baby, I didn’t know what to expect but I knew he should not have been sleeping as much as he was.”

Kirsty said a doctor told her not to worry and that Alex was fine but she took him to accident and emergency, where she was told he was suffering from heart failure.

She believes if she had not acted when she did, her son would have died.

At 13 days old, Alex had his first heart operation at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

Kirsty said: “As soon as he got back into intensive care after his first operation he started losing so much blood that his heart stopped beating.

“He was technically dead and the doctors had to start pumping his heart again with their fingertips. He is a bit of a miracle really.”

Since those initial “terrifying” few weeks for mum Kirsty Kirsty and partner Prentice, aged 36, Alex has gone from strength to strength.

Both his second operation at around five months and his surgery last month were planned procedures so the family knew to expect.

Kirsty said: “Alex is doing amazingly well and is a totally different child since this operation.

“He has so much more energy and is full of life.”

Alex may have to have a heart transplant when he is older but for now he is looking forward to returning to his reception class at St Andrew’s School in Radcliffe next month and having fun with friends who he kept in touch with from his hospital bed via Skype.

Kirsty supports a Children’s Heart Federation campaign to routinely give newborn babies a pulse oximetry test which can detect congenital heart conditions.

She said parents need to be aware of the signs of heart problems in youngsters which include being cold, sleepy, blue, breathless or breathing very fast.

Kirsty added: “If I had known the symptoms I would have gone back to the hospital straight away.

“When I stop and think about how he could have died if I had left it that little bit longer, I am just so grateful he is here today.”