The star, who has been a part of some gripping story lines in the ITV soap went through agony when off-screen his eight-month-old son had to undergo open heart surgery. Facing every parent’s worst nightmare, Dominic and his wife Joanne were told by medical professionals that son Danny might not make it through the complex operation. To make matters worse, the pair had to decide in a matter of moments whether they would want to donate his organs if the worst happened.
“We had to discuss it, but even before that we’d all agreed to be donors in the family – my sisters are nurses so it was how we were brought up.”
The anxious wait to see if little Danny would pull through was understandably one of the worst experiences of the actor’s life, but thankfully the little lad pulled through.
Now, 11 years old, Dominic described him as “healthier than me or you,” and absolutely football mad.
The actor said: “He is fine now. He is healthier than me or you, absolutely rocking. It is incredible what they can do.
“He has got a massive scar – we used to tell him he had a fight with a shark so he got a shock when we told him he’d had a heart operation.”
In light of his own family’s tragedy, Dominic was able to deliver a stunning performance when character Paddy and on-stage partner Chas Dingle (Lucy Pargeter), faced some distressing news about their unborn child.
In a story line a few years back, Paddy and Chas learnt that their baby had a defect – known as bilateral renal agenesis, which means her lungs and kidneys won’t develop properly and she will not be able to live past birth.
Within the story, the couple were asked if they wanted to donate their baby’s organs in order to give another child a chance of life – similar to what Dominic was asked about Danny.
Reflecting on filming the emotional scenes, Dominic said: “We’ve met parents who have gone through it. First of all, it’s because they were parents of a certain age and then with the complication that’s come up, it’s working out all the facets and angles of this.”
The sobering storyline surely makes the actor even more grateful that his son was able to overcome his own health troubles.
Dominic, 48, added: “He has check-ups once a year for the rest of his life, but thankfully Leeds Royal Infirmary were great and the children’s heart surgery fund have been great.”
It is most likely that Dominic’s son underwent coronary bypass surgery, although not confirmed by the actor, which according to the British Heart Foundation, can relieve chest pain.
During the operation the surgeon uses a blood vessel from your leg, arm or chest to bypass a narrowed section of the coronary artery. Contrastingly, heart surgery on infants and babies is often done to repair heart defects such as congenital heart defects, which the baby is born with.
There are many kinds of defects that can occur in the heart, with some more serious than others, but whilst performing any type of surgery a heart-lung bypass machine will be used.
The Mayo Clinic explains that serious congenital heart defects usually are noticed soon after birth or during the first few months of life. Signs and symptoms could include:
- Pale grey or blue skin color
- Rapid breathing
- Swelling in the legs, belly or areas around the eyes
- Shortness of breath during feedings, leading to poor weight gain.
These problems usually develop during the first six weeks of pregnancy as the heart begins to form and beat on its own. Researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes most of these defects, but they think genetics, certain medical conditions, some medications, and environmental or lifestyle factors, such as smoking, may play a role.