A GORNAL mum suffering the heartbreak of her baby’s death has told of her determination to keep his memory alive.

Natalie Butler has vowed by the time her son Chase’s first birthday arrives in July his grave will have a memorial stone in place.

Baby Chase was just five days old when he died at Birmingham Children’s Hospital after undergoing surgery to treat a heart condition.

Natalie, aged 20, fought back tears as she spoke about her son and how she dreamed of family life with him after the operation.

She said: “He looked perfect, it was hard to believe there was something wrong. I wasn’t expecting him to die, I was expecting to bring him home.”

Medics first identified a problem with Chase’s heart during a routine 20-week scan and further examinations confirmed he had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) where the left ventricle of the heart is underdeveloped.

The young mum from Duke Street and her partner, Chris Gibbons, aged 26, were offered the agonising choice of ending the pregnancy, palliative care only for their child after his birth until he died or a series of operations during his early years to treat the defect.

Natalie said: “It was a normal pregnancy, I just had to keep going for scans. I was searching the internet, it said 85 per cent are alright with surgery. I was more worried about my baby than me.”

They chose treatment knowing the first operation would be performed just four days after his birth.

Chase was born on July 9 last year and the couple had just 15 minutes with their baby before he was taken to intensive care and five days later he was ready for his first major heart surgery.

Natalie said: “They came up and wheeled him to the anaesthetic room, I got him out of his cot and had hold of him. That was the last time I saw him, I was there when they put him to sleep.”

The operation was successful but there were complications as Chase was taken back to intensive care and he was rushed back to the operating theatre where his heart was manually kept working for 45 minutes until he was connected to a life support machine.

Sadly by then Chase was brain dead and surgeons told his parents there was nothing more they could do and the machine was to be switched off.

Natalie is determined raise the cash to have a headstone in place for her son’s first birthday, she said: “It is really important, he was my first baby. He was my little boy, when you see your child after you have just had it you instantly fall in love.”

Natalie is getting help for fundraising from a Dudley photography studio where every Tuesday people can pay £1 for a portrait of their youngster for entry into a beautiful baby competition.

Emma Sealey Photography, in Priory Street, is hosting the competition for children aged four or under. Proceeds will be donated to the headstone fund with any surplus going to the Ronald Macdonald House Charity which provides accommodation for families while children are in hospital.