A 17 week-old baby from Milford Haven faces the second major operation of his young life next week as he battles with a life-threatening heart condition.

In April, Daniel Evans-Critten was born at Withybush Hospital with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, a condition that affects just one in every 5000 babies.

The extremely rare disease means that the left-hand side of his heart never fully developed.

After diagnosis, doctors gently explained the options available to Danny's shocked parents Claire Evans and David Critten.

Essentially it came down to an agonising choice. Allow Danny to die peacefully with his family around him or opt for three high-risk open-heart operations.

Claire and David took the decision to go ahead with the operations to give their young son a chance of life.

Danny was rushed to Birmingham Children's Hospital for his first operation at just four days old. He was on the operating table for over six hours and now faces his second date with surgeons on Wednesday.

A third operation will then have to be carried out when Danny is between three and six years old.

Danny's mum Claire told the Mercury: "The problem can be picked up by a scan but it didn't with us. He had a few breathing problems but they didn't know what was wrong with him and said they would take him to the Heath in Cardiff, that scared us, we thought it could be a hole in the heart.

"I thought to myself a hole in the heart, that would be okay, we were trying to stay positive. Danny was taken up in an emergency ambulance and when we were there they asked us to go to Special Care, they took us in and told us all about Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

"They showed us a leaflet and explained exactly what it was, we just wanted to know everything. Then they gave us the options, the comfort care was one option, where you just allow things to go through naturally. There are no transplants so the only option was the surgery, we have to give him every chance we can and after we made the choice the doctors said they thought it was the right decision, that made us feel a lot better. We went for the surgery because he is not going to live without it."

The first operation took place just four days into Danny's young life.

Claire explained how she and David coped: "We were told to just get out of the hospital, we went out around Birmingham, around the shops, trying not to think about it. We were going to watch a film but thought 'no, they wouldn't be able to get hold of us if something went wrong.'

"Then eventually, six hours later, we had a call to say everything had gone well, we went back and it was amazing to see him again. It took a few days for him to come around and we had our first cuddle after so long."

This week the slightest shade of blue around Danny's lips is the only evidence of the tough start to his young life.

Claire said: "He really doesn't know what all the fuss is about but we have to watch him for breathlessness, especially nearer to the operation."

The family will travel back up to Birmingham next week for the second stage of surgery. The aim is to re-route the blood through the right side of Danny's heart, bypassing the blockages on the left side.

Unfortunately the three operations will not guarantee Danny a normal, healthy future. There is a possibility that Danny may need a transplant in teenage years or early adult life.

But despite everything that the family have been through over the last four months they remain thoroughly positive and in Danny they have a real fighter who looks to be grabbing his chance at life with both hands.

Mum's appeal for sponsors

The shock of Danny's diagnosis and the speed with which he needed major high-risk surgery obviously hit his parents Claire and David extremely hard.

But they were soon told about Left Heart Matters, a charity which offers advice and support to families hit by Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS).

The charity was set up at the request of parents of children with HLHS who often feel isolated by their child's disease.

Danny's mum Claire told the Mercury that the support they received prompted them to give the charity something back: "We found them very helpful, which is why on September 14 we will be taking part in a 5km fun run in Birmingham to raise money for Left Heart Matters."

Claire will be running with her sisters Joanne and Ceri Evans and they are looking for generous Merc readers to sponsor them around the course.

Said Claire: "We wanted to do something for Left Heart Matters and we thought this would be perfect. We thought that the London Marathon might be a bit too far so this seemed like a nice distance!"

Anyone who would like to sponsor Claire, Joanne and Ceri can contact the family at 1 Lilac Close, Milford Haven, SA73 1DF or telephone 01646 694314.

All the money raised will go to Left Heart Matters.