The family of a little Wearside girl who has battled back from near death and been left paralysed down one side of her body today spoke of their gratitude as cash flooded in to help give her the independence she desperately needs.
Three-year-old Layla Davis was born with congenital heart disease (CHD) and had to have open heart surgery when she was just months old at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
“Layla wasn’t diagnosed with the condition until she was about six and a half weeks old so it was a big shock for us all,” said her loving mum Amanda, 32, of Arthur Avenue, in Ryhope.
“We had a beautiful little baby and just thought she had a bit of reflux but it turned out she had congenital heart disease.
“Her condition’s full name is Shone’s Complex which affects only 1% of all children born with CHD.
“It was a big hit for the family.”
Following numerous procedures, at just over one year old Layla underwent an operation to relieve pressure on her heart.
But the nine-hour surgery, aiming to stop potentially fatal seizures caused by the pressure, caused a clot to move to her brain and affect her ability to smile, talk and even use her right arm.
Amanda and Layla’s dad Stephen, also 32, worried they could lost the tot forever, but she battled back, defying doctors’ predictions to be allowed to go home and lead as full a life as possible.
Now, as Layla waits for a donor valve so that she can have another operation on her heart, the family, which includes Layla’s brothers Makenzie, 12, Lucas, four months, and sister Mia, seven, have been busy fundraising to buy her a TinyTrax electric wheelchair so that she can move independently and enjoy life as much as possible.
The piece of kit costs more than £6,000 and so far just over £5,000 has been generated in just a few months since the appeal began to help the Mill Hill Nursery pupil.
“The only way she can get about at the minute is by bumping and shuffling,” added Amanda.
“She’s going to go to a mainstream school when she’s old enough, with help provided, but without this she won’t be able to play properly with the other children.
“She won’t just be strapped into a pushchair and can make her own way around.
“Just because Layla is disabled it doesn’t mean she isn’t able to lead an independent life which we want her to live.
“For someone who has suffered what she has gone through, to be able to see the smile on her face will be amazing.”
Those that have helped include Makenzie’s football team Plains Farm Under-13s, Gentoo, fund-raising group Grace’s Angels and Royal Mail, where Stephen works.
“The whole community have really come together on this and we can’t thank them enough,” said Amanda.
“There are a lot of nice people in this world. It’s not all doom and gloom like you see on the news sometimes.
“It would be absolutely wonderful if we could get the rest of the money in over the next few weeks so we can get the chair ordered.”
To donate towards Layla’s appeal go to www.gofundme.com/s262yjm4.