Tiny Aliyah Grace Liddle is battling back to health after doctors gave her a ‘50/50’ chance of survival.
The seven-week-old is still in hospital after being born with a hole in her diaphragm.
But her proud parents Carley Ann Yoxell and Daniel Liddle, of Grindon, Sunderland, say they’ve been amazed by how many obstacles their brave daughter has overcome in her short life, which have also included suffering a stroke.
Aliyah, who is little sister to Kaiden, two, was born at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary on April 27, where she remains seven weeks later.
She was born with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH), meaning she has a hole in her diaphragm.
Her stomach and bowels had moved up through the hole into her chest, and so far, the baby has had five operations to correct it.
Carley, 21, who has just qualified as a hairdresser, says she found out at her 20-week scan that something was wrong.
Carley, and Daniel, 25, who works at Rolls Royce in Pallion, were given an ultimatum by doctors.
She said: “They found the problem at my 20-week scan and told us there was a 50/50 chance that she would die. They offered me a termination, and I said no straight away.
“I told them I didn’t believe in that and that I could never get rid of my baby after I’d felt her moving around inside of me.
“They also said there was a high risk that she could have Down’s syndrome or another chromosome disorder and offered tests for that, but they carry a chance of miscarriage and I didn’t want to do that either. I just wanted my baby.”
After Aliyah was born, she faced a string of health problems.
Carley added: “The night she was born she needed to be put on a kind of life support machine, but there are only a few of them in the country. There’s one at the Freeman but no beds were available so she had to go to Leicester.
“They had to make an incision into an artery in her neck and put tubes in which helped her organs function properly.
“Kaiden was on the same machine when he was born too, the doctors couldn’t believe they’d both had to use it.
“Aliyah was on the machine for 12 days, but had her first operation to fix the hole in her diaphragm when she was just two-days-old.
“They patched the hole up and pulled her stomach and bowels back to where they should be. Only one in 2,500 children are born with this condition, that’s why I want to talk about it, because I’d never even heard of it when the doctors first told me.”
Aliyah also has a feeding tube and PICC line in her arm to give her the nutrients she isn’t getting from milk.
The battling baby faced more challenges when she suffered a stroke while undergoing treatment in Leicester.
Carley said: “We just can’t wait to get her home but she’s got a lot of problems. She suffered a stroke while she was hooked up to the machine in Leicester. A blood clot got into the machine and travelled up to her brain.
“The doctors think it could have affected her movement and we have to do physiotherapy with her. It’s affected her right side so we have to move her arm and leg around and encourage her to use her right side more. But we won’t really know how bad the damage is until she gets older. It’s a waiting game.
“Until she hits her milestones, like crawling and walking, we won’t know how bad the damage is. The worst case scenario is that she’ll never walk. The doctors say it’s possibly affected her speech ability as well, but again, we won’t know until she gets to the point where she’s starting to talk.”
The couple have been through an awful time as they’ve watched their baby daughter battle through adversity.
Carley said: “It’s been so horrible, but we just can’t believe everything she’s overcome and how quickly she’s got over things.
“The only real reason she’s still in hospital now is because she’s not feeding properly and it’s frustrating that we can’t take her home because of that.
“They’ve started to let us take her out of her hospital room in her pushchair for an hour a day and it’s amazing.
“I had a really tough time through my pregnancy because I knew there was something wrong and I couldn’t just enjoy it.
“But she just keeps proving everyone wrong and coming through everything that’s thrown at her. We’re just staying positive and counting down the days until we can take her home.
“You could say I was unlucky that Aliyah and Kaiden both needed life support when they were born, but I just feel so lucky to have them both.”