THE loving parents of a severely disabled girl have spoke about their fears after their second child was born prematurely.
Josh Merrington and Simone Clark’s daughter Lillia endured a devastating battle with meningitis and at one point stopped breathing.
The youngster spent the first 13 weeks of her life in Sunderland Royal Hospital as she fought the illness but also suffers from a catalogue of problems after developing cerebral palsy, epilepsy, diabetes and fluid on the brain.
The family now care for Lillia, who attends Sunningdale School in Sunderland, 24 hours a day as she is unable to walk, eat or drink properly and because of problems with her sight.
But after Simone discovered she was pregnant again earlier this year, doctors voiced fears that Lillia’s conditions could be replicated in the couple’s next child.
It is thought that a strain of the Group B Streptococcus form of meningitis was passed on unwittingtly from her mum.
Almost a third of adults carry the bacteria, although for most, it doesn’t usually cause problems and most babies will remain unharmed if their mother is infected.
Thankfully, Talia Merrington entered the world on June 20.
Speaking from the family’s Town End Farm home, Simone, 21, said: “The doctors induced me at 34 weeks because I had developed an infection which got so bad they decided to deliver her.
“There was a real risk Talia would have the same condition as Lillia, but we wanted another child so early, because we might not have had another chance.
“Looking after Lillia will only get harder as she gets older and we wanted another child who will love her.”
Following a spell in the neonatal unit and after having blood tests and a course of antibiotics, Talia, who is now 16 weeks old, is settling into life at home with her family.
Friends of Josh, 20, and Simone have organised a spooky charity night to help raise funds which will go towards sensory lights for Lillia, who turns two next month.
A Halloween ghost hunt will take place at The Alexandra, in Grangetown, on Thursday, October 31, from 10.15pm to 3am the following morning.
“Light is one of the things the doctors say Lillia enjoys,” added Simone. “It’s something that brings her on and hopefully she will eventually start to reach and try and touch things.”
More details about tickets for the event are available by calling Stewart Allan on 07902 410 287.