A devastated Sunderland couple are struggling to come to terms with the death of a second child.
Despite undergoing 13 operations, five of which were open heart surgery, brave Layla Tench’s tiny body couldn’t take any more and she died in her dad’s arms aged just nine months old.
Her heartbroken parents, Wayne Spargo and Danielle Tench, who lost their second son, James, when he was stillborn in 2010, say despite her ill health, little Layla, who was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, was always smiling.
Wayne, 27, said: “She was a joy, absolutely no bother, she was so chilled out. She would be lying there with needles and tubes coming out of her and she would still be smiling and laughing. We just loved her.”
The Southwick couple, who are also parents to Matthew, eight, and three-year-old Emma, were dealt the blow of Layla’s condition at Danielle’s 20-week preganancy scan.
Doctors warned them it would be a long road for her, but they could carry out a series of operations which could save her life.
Wayne said: “We had already lost our son, so if there was any chance of her living we wanted to take it.” Danielle, 25, said: “When I gave birth in the RVI at Newcastle there was a team on hand to take her straight to the Freeman Hospital.”
At five days old Layla underwent her first open heart surgery, which went as well as expected and she was eventually allowed home.
However, when she was around three months old the youngster started to become sick and was rushed back to the Freeman.
It was suspected she had contracted a form of meningitis, but due to her already frail condition her lungs started to deteriorate.
Over the next months the battling youngster underwent a range of surgeries as doctors tried everything in their power to keep her alive.
Wayne said: “I can’t say how fantastic the staff at the Freeman are. They don’t give up and will try everything possible.” But surgeons eventually had to break the news there was nothing more they could do.
Danielle, who is expecting another baby girl in December, said: “They said they could keep her on life support for another few days for us, but we both thought that would be cruel. We wanted her to be at peace after everything she had been through.”
The youngster was quickly baptised and family came to say their goodbyes, before Wayne and Danielle held their daughter for the last time as the machines were turned off.
Wayne and Danielle say they can’t believe Layla is gone and still keep thinking they need to rush up to the hospital.
Layla’s funeral will be held on Monday in St Hilda’s Church at 10.30am before she is buried next to her brother at Bishopwearmouth Cemetery.
Friends of Danielle and Wayne, who lost his job as a forklift truck driver due to all the time he needed off work to look after his family, have set up a fundraising page, www.gofundme.com/q845qdck, to help the young couple meet the costs of Layla’s funeral and headstone.