A DOTING dad has had a heart surgery scar tattooed onto his chest to support his 11-year-old daughter.

David Hopper and his wife Kelly were devastated when they discovered Charli had three holes in her heart shortly after she was born.

After undergoing open heart surgery at just 12-weeks-old little Charli recovered well, but was left with a “zip” scar down the centre of her chest.

Worried that as she grew older she may become self-conscious about her scar, David decided to get one tattooed on his own chest so they looked the same.

Charli sat with David, 40, and held his hand as tattoo artist Donavan Welsh, 32, inked a replica of the scar on her father’s chest.

Mr Hopper, from Consett, said: “I got it for me and for Charli so she’s not alone. It’s very realistic. I love it when people say to me “have you had surgery?”

The Northern Echo:

“It’s achieved what it was meant to. Donavan has done a great job and Charli is not by herself. Charli’s scar is not something that should be hidden away.

“Donavan was lovely, he understood where I was coming from. He said he had never done one of these before but he was confident he would do a good job.

“At the top of the tattoo if looks like a mistake but it is where Charli had her drain.”

The Hoppers, who both work in pastoral care, became concerned that Charli was sleeping too much and was not feeding following her birth.

The couple took her to hospital where they were told she had a heart murmur and another scan revealed that she had three holes in the heart.

The Northern Echo:

But after emergency surgery at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, Charlie made a full recovery and the only sign of her trauma was the scar down the centre of her chest.

Mr Hopper and his daughter chose not to look at the tattoo, which was covered in a bandage, until they got home so they could view it as a family with mum Kelly, 42, and Charli’s brother Dylan, 15.

Charli said: “My mam says my scar is like a medal of what I have been through.

"I’m really happy because I like the fact I’m not the only one with the scar.

“My dad had a bandage on and we didn’t see it until we came into the house as we didn’t want to open it without mam.

“When he uncovered it, it was great, I really liked it.”