A COUPLE from Musselburgh are sharing an extra special Valentine’s Day this year as they marked the first birthday of their baby boy who was born with a hole in his heart.

Woody Zollinger turned one on Tuesday, having undergone open heart surgery when he was just six months old for a congenital heart condition, diagnosed at his mum’s 20-week scan.

Now his parents Helen and Stewart are lending their support to the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) Love Notes campaign to help raise funds for life-saving research into conditions such as Woody’s.

Helen said: “When we were given the diagnosis, it was really frightening.

“We were just shellshocked for a while and both really upset. It was a terrifying prospect but what we didn’t know at the time was just how common it was.”

Woody’s operation took place at the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow in August.

Helen said: “The day of the operation was a very, very scary day as you can imagine.

“We knew it was open heart surgery and we understood what that meant. It was frightening, invasive stuff but we also knew that it was something we had to do for Woody to have a normal life or as close to a normal life as possible.”

Woody has gone on to make a full recovery and, along with his parents, made a special visit to the BHF’s shop in Musselburgh to back the Love Notes campaign.

Helen is now working with BHF Scotland looking to set up a community group for those in similar situations.

She added: “You think of a time before the developments we have today and you wonder what would have become of Woody?

“Here we are celebrating his first birthday. It’s wonderful and we are just so thankful.”

BHF is urging residents to pen a message of love to their nearest and dearest by purchasing one of its Love Notes in time for Valentine’s Day.

From a poem to an emoji, people can head into a BHF shop and pick up a love note for £1 (small) or £2 (large) before writing a heartfelt note to a loved one.

The messages will then be displayed in the store window until Friday.

About 700,000 people in Scotland are living with heart and circulatory conditions, including those who have survived heart attacks and strokes.

All money raised from the sales of Love Notes will go towards the BHF’s research.

James Cant, director of BHF Scotland, said: “Having the support of families like Woody’s is so important to us.

“He’s an inspirational little boy and, after what must have been an extremely frightening time, it’s wonderful to see him looking so happy and we are delighted to wish him a very happy first birthday.

“Each month in Scotland around 25 babies are diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.

“When the BHF was founded in 1961, around eight out of 10 babies born with a complex congenital heart condition died before their first birthday.

“Today, thanks to research and advances in treatment and care, eight out of 10 babies with congenital heart disease will grow up to be adults.

“It’s a remarkable turnaround but we want to do more. Our Love Notes campaign is just one of the ways people can help us raise money to fund crucial breakthroughs.

“By dedicating a Love Note to a special someone – whether that’s a partner, a parent or a friend – you’ll be helping the BHF continue to beat heartbreak forever.”