Martin Watts' son Joey was diagnosed with supravalvular aortic stenosis, a birth defect that develops before birth. It impedes the blood flow to the heart and the rest of the body. Joey's parents were given his diagnosis when he was 14 weeks old.
“It’s not easy for a 6-year-old boy or any child of any age to have that type of surgery,” mom Leanne Watts told SWNS. “When Joey saw the scar, he just said, ‘Is this where they have cut me to fix my heart?’ We’ve told him it should be something to be proud of and he shouldn’t be ashamed by what has happened to him.”
Joey had an 8-hour procedure in May and was discharged a few days later. Leanne said he is recovering well but will need more work done in the future.
To help Joey cope with his new marking, Martin got a tattoo on his chest that resembles the scar Joey now bares.
Leanne said Martin's new ink helps Joey feel better about what he's going through.
“It’s absolutely fantastic. It just shows him it’s nothing to be scared of and that he should be proud of what he has achieved in life,” she said.
But the new tattoo isn't just helping Joey. The couple's older son, Harley, also has the condition and will undergo the same surgery later this year. Unlike Joey, Harley was diagnosed while he was still in utero.
“From when they were first born, [doctors] told me there was nothing they could do, we would just have to live with it,” Leanne said. “I was told they could both pass away at any given point. Joey’s condition progressed rapidly. They said if we didn’t try something now the inevitable will be sooner rather than later.”
But Leanna is hopeful that her boys will pull through their diagnoses.
“You take comfort from the way surgeons at Leeds handled things with Joey,” she said. “It will be just as scary but they have given you reason to believe. I thought superheroes wore capes, they don’t, they wear surgical scrubs and gowns."