FRIENDS and family have launched a fund-raising drive to help a girl born with a series of serious health issues.
Ciara Heffernan and partner Kent O’Brien were told at their 20-week scan their unborn daughter had spina bifida.
At just a day old, baby Rubie had surgery to put nerves and fluid that had developed in a sack on her back, inside her body.
She has had a temporary wire put into her left foot to help straighten it, and had the tendons in both feet snipped.
Earlier this month both legs were put into casts, which will remain on for another four weeks.
She also has hip dysplasia, which means the ball of the joints are not in their sockets, and has had to have a catheter put in place.
When Ciara gave birth to her naturally at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, she was “folded up”, with her knees to her chest.
During her treatment in intensive care, she was placed inside a plastic bag to protect her from bacteria ahead of her first operation, and was put on a drip to make sure she got the nutrients she needed, in addition to feeds from Ciara.
After nine days, she was finally allowed to join sister Lillie, three, at the family home in Southwick.
However, despite the physical hardship the tot is facing and the upset of seeing her undergo procedures at such a young age, her mum and dad say the new addition to their family is a delight.
Ciara, who is on maternity leave as a home carer, said: “She’s absolutely brilliant.
“When she went for her surgery she had to be nil by mouth, so I couldn’t feed her for 11 hours.
“I thought she was going to be a nightmare, but we didn’t hear a peep out of her and she is usually fine as long as she’s been fed.
“She’s my daughter and whatever she’s going through, she needs me to be there for her.
“Our friends and family have all asked what can they do to help and will fund-raise if she needs a wheelchair.
“We don’t know to what extent she will be affected until she gets a bit bigger, whether she will walk at all or need a wheelchair, it’s just a matter of waiting at the moment.
“At the minute, it’s all right, because she’s a baby, but it’s going to be more difficult as she grows.”
Ciara and Kent, 25, who works for Be Modern fireplace firm in Jarrow, are being helped by Barry Crake, who runs the Cosmetic Tattoo Studio in Boldon Colliery.
Barry said: “When I heard about the baby being born with this I thought I need to do something.
“I’ll be doing what I can to support them.”
As part of his fund-raising efforts Barry, and colleague Michael Smithson, will be staging a 24-hour tattoo-athon.
Although it is not clear what help Rubie needs yet because she is so young, her family hope any cash raised will be used to help her mobility and sensory equipment. From 8am on Sunday, November 2, Barry and Michael will offering couples and friends tattoos of half a heart, which will make up a full heart when placed together, for a charge of £10.