A MOTHER who was told to have an abortion because her baby’s chance of survival was so low has given birth to Britain’s only double dwarf.
Little Nathan Phillips, who is three months old, was born healthy and fit to dwarfs Laura Whitfield, 24, and her fiance Nathan Phillips, 34.
Both of the pint-size parents have different forms of dwarfism and the new arrival has stunned medical experts by inheriting both strands.
Though doctors do not yet know what impact it will have on the baby they say there is no reason he won’t lead a relatively normal life.
Laura, from Sunderland, said that his safe arrival was a huge relief after she was advised early in the pregnancy that the baby may only survive half an hour, if born alive.
Doctors told her to consider an abortion after irregularities in scans caused professionals to worry the youngster had inherited a deadly combination of genes.
But Laura, who suffered complications throughout the pregnancy, ignored advice and decided to carry on with the pregnancy.
She was then told that both her and the baby would need special care after birth - if he survived.
The mother prepared herself for the prospect of not seeing her newborn baby for four days after having a c-section.
But she was amazed when she woke from the operation to find her fiance sat at her bedside – with the newborn by his side.
‘I didn’t think of abortion at any point’
Laura, who has appeared in a number of films and theatre shows, said: “I was having scans once a week because they were a little worried there could be complications.
“It wasn’t until 24/25 weeks that things started changing. “They noticed that his measurements weren’t quite what they should be.
“They thought that he had inherited two rare genes that could have been dangerous.
“I was told to consider abortion and told that if he had these genes he would probably die within half an hour of birth.
“I didn’t even think about abortion at any point – I don’t believe in abortion. I could feel him moving around inside me – he was a little wriggler. In my head everything was fine.
“When I went down to theatre to have him I was so worried – they had been very cautious with us and said that there was a high chance we would need special care after he was born and that I might not see him for four days.
“When I woke up Nathan was stood next to me with little Nathan in a cot. I couldn’t believe it - I just cried.”
Laura, who is the only dwarf in her family, suffers from achondroplasia - meaning she has shortened limbs as well as a curvature of the spine - causing serious pain.
Nathan, who lived in Bristol before meeting Laura, has a different form of dwarfism - pseudoachondroplasia, which means his bone growth is stinted, causing weak hips.
Experts fear that baby Nathan may inherit back and hip problems due to having both strands of dwarfism, but it is not yet known if he will suffer from either.
His mother said that she hopes Nathan will be able to live a normal life, much like herself, despite his condition.
She added that whilst she was sure Nathan was the only person in the UK to become a double dwarf, the condition had been heard of elsewhere in the world.
She said: “Nathan has inherited both forms of dwarfism and is therefore a double dwarf.
“The doctors have never come across it before. They have heard about it but they really don’t know much - they have no idea what the problems caused will be or anything.
“At the moment they are watching him quite carefully because they don’t really know what to expect.
“The problem is that because of his dwarfism big Nathan has very bad hips, which causes
him to walk a little unusually.
“My dwarfism means I have a curvature of the spine and am often in a lot of pain.
“We are hoping that little Nathan will get my hips and his dad’s spine so that he can avoid both these problems but I guess ultimately he might end up with both.
“I am hoping that he will have a fairly normal life like I have had.
“My family are all normal size so nothing was ever really adapted for me – I would just have to work around it.
“I’m not sure he is the only person in the world with the condition but he is certainly the
only person in the UK.
“Doctors have heard a bit about it before so it might be that people in America or something have had it before.”
Laura and Nathan met in December 2012 whilst performing in pantomime on the Channel 4 documentary - Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
The pair got engaged in March 2013 and Laura fell pregnant in April 2013, though they had not been trying for a baby.
Despite the new arrival delaying marriage plans, the couple hope to tie the knot later this year or early next year.
Though they are not quite sure what is in store with baby Nathan they say they will remain patient in the hope he will lead a life as enjoyable as theirs.
Laura said: “I wouldn’t have been able to cope if little Nathan hadn’t made it.
“We really aren’t sure what we can expect to happen with little Nathan now, doctors have
said he probably won’t start learning to walk until he is at least 18 months.
“I guess we will just have to be patient and make sure we don’t pick him up or discourage him in any way.”