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Exclusive: James and Ola Jordan reveal doctors are investigating a hole in daughter Ella's heart

The former Strictly stars had a scare when Ella was hospitalised before Christmas

James and Ola Jordan cuddling daughter Ella for exclusive HELLO! shoot
Sophie Hamilton
Parenting Editor
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Watching their little girl twirling around, a bright and chatty bundle of fun and wonder, professional dancers James and Ola Jordan can’t help feeling emotional.

Robust as she seems now, it's hard to shake off that a few short weeks ago, the former Strictly Come Dancing professionals were sat anxiously at three-year-old Ella's hospital bedside after she was rushed in with a worryingly high temperature and found to be suffering from pneumonia and tonsillitis.

Posting a photograph to his Instagram Stories of his very poorly looking "little warrior" with an IV drip in her arm, a tear running down her pale, exhausted face, James, 45, explained how Ella had been ill for five days before, after two trips to A&E, she was diagnosed and taken in for treatment.

Ella Jordan wearing sweet red dress with white tights and collar© HELLO!
Ella Jordan was unwell before Christmas

It wasn’t the first time Ella had fallen seriously unwell and now James and 41-year-old Ola exclusively reveal to HELLO! that medics might have identified the reason their daughter seems to be so susceptible to picking up bad chest infections and nasty colds; they fear she has a hole in her heart.

"The doctors at the hospital agreed that we need to find out why she keeps getting so sick," says James from our photoshoot at the Chilston Park Hotel. "They say it could be a link with her heart issue, potentially, which we’ve never spoken about before."

Ola explains: "Ella was first diagnosed with a heart murmur a couple of years ago. Then, just before her second birthday, she was at the hospital and the doctor said: 'I'm not sure about her heart; there’s a little hole that needs to be double checked with another doctor.'"

"We were told that if she does have a hole in the heart, they can’t do anything until she’s older and stronger, so they suggested we wait," says James.

A follow-up appointment next month should tell them more. "But it would be a massive operation," says James, gazing at his precious "baby girl".


Ella’s hospital stay

It was hard enough on the doting parents seeing Ella so poorly in December. When the cough she’d had for a couple of days got progressively worse and her fever spiked at 41 degrees, James and Ola were at first advised it was a viral infection and told to carry on giving Ella Calpol and Ibuprofen and let it run its course.

But after "two more terrible nights", says James, coupled with her being sick, he and Ola took their only child back to A&E, where this time she was given a chest X-ray that got to the root of the problem.

"It was horrendous watching them put the cannula in Ella’s arm, with nurses all around and James having to hold her in a bear hug," recounts Ola. "As a parent you feel so helpless with your child so ill. I stayed overnight in the hospital with Ella because only one parent was allowed, even though James also wanted to stay."

"The first two days in hospital she was just sleeping. It was horrible," recalls James. Fortunately, Ella recovered from the pneumonia and after a week in hospital, was home in time for Christmas.

Ola Jordan in beige coat and James Jordan holding daughter Ella on his shoulders© HELLO!
The Jordan family at the Chilston Park Hotel

The following day, Ola had to travel to Poland to help her parents make the flight to England as they were all spending Christmas together.  

"We could see Ella was on the road to recovery, so I said: 'I’ve got this. Just go and get your mum and dad'," James tells HELLO!. "Ola’s dad isn’t well, so she had to go and help her mum."


Back home for Christmas

Once the family were all safely back at the Jordan family home in Kent, they had a mad dash to get everything ready in time for the big day – including sorting Ella’s presents.

And if Santa was more generous than usual this year, it’s understandable. Having left a mince pie and glass of whiskey out for Father Christmas and a carrot for his reindeer, Ella awoke to an impressive haul.

"She was very lucky," says James with a smile. "She got a skating Barbie, Skye from Paw Patrol and lots of games – she loves playing games. She also got a karaoke machine, but I’m not sure if that was for Ella or Ola! It’s a kiddie one with two microphones but Ola’s on it more than Ella."

The family had a wonderful festive period together, the best gift for James and Ola being that Ella's health is improving by the day, with her dad telling us she’s "around 85% better now."

"I took her to an indoor play centre the other day and that’s the first time she’s done anything energetic since having pneumonia, and it knocked her for six," says James. "You can see her energy isn’t quite back yet, but she’s getting there."

Ola and James Jordan swinging daughter Ella between them in park on frosty day© HELLO!
Ella is James and Ola's whole world

Dancing is in the genes

Just like her star parents, Ella loves to dance and, her proud parents reveal, has even created her own dance step for the couple’s workout programme, Dance Shred.

Says James: "Ella still joins us dancing at home sometimes. She loves the Jive Shred and she is the creator of one of the steps in the Salsa Shred."

James and Ola are also getting back to working out after tucking into festive food and drink. "Over Christmas we overindulged and didn’t exercise – we’re human the same as everyone else," admits James.

"I think people have this idea that if you’re a sportsperson or a dancer, you don’t eat certain things. I love my chocolate and Baileys and Ola loves her champagne. We overindulged and we need to get back on it.

"Doing Dance Shred has made us understand our own bodies more, and as you get older, it does get harder; you start moving less and your metabolic rate does slow down, but we’ve found a good balance and it works for us."

James and Ola Jordan in black outfits dancing together to promote Dance Shred© James and Ola Jordan
The couple's workout programme Dance Shred

Ola adds: "For us, it's more about staying healthy for Ella. The mindset changes from looking good in a dress like in the Strictly years to staying healthy for your daughter."

The pair have created a 90-day Shred Plan and are running a new competition: whoever has the best body transformation will win a £2000 voucher towards a holiday with On the Beach and £300 towards new clothes.

James and Ola Jordan in workout clothes promoting Dance Shred© James and Ola Jordan
The Dance Shred workout

Plans for 2024

Also on the Jordans' to-do list this year to keep them active is a possible family holiday in the snow, which they know Ella would love.

"We’re thinking about going skiing," reveals James. "Mummy can’t ski because when she tried to ski, she snapped her anterior cruciate ligament, but we’re thinking about taking Ella for three or four days."

As for expanding their family, Ola tells us that while she and James would like a sibling for their daughter, they are enjoying being a family-of-three right now.

"It’s still on the cards," Ola shares. "Nothing really is happening to be honest and we haven’t really been going forward with any plans. It's hard - and I think I like Ella's age. She’s so easy now."

This is also the year the couple will be picking schools for their precious girl.

"We don’t really agree," says James. "Ola wants her to go to a little village school where they get a cuddle and have their noses wiped and I want Ella to go to a school where she’ll be pushed, disciplined, learn and try to be the best person she can be."

 "I’m going to have to buy her school uniform this summer and it’s heartbreaking," says Ola. "Obviously we went with James’s choices because he’s pushy. But to me, she’s still my little munchkin."

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