Life-saving op robbed Sunderland girl of her smile – but now it’s back

Stephen and Amanda Davis with their daughter Mia, five and Layla, 17mths.
Stephen and Amanda Davis with their daughter Mia, five and Layla, 17mths.
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AN inspirational little girl was robbed of her smile during a life-saving operation.

Layla Davis, 17 months, suffered a stroke which left her paralysed down one side of her already fragile body while doctors were performing a heart operation.

The Hall Farm tot needed the procedure to relieve pressure on her heart which has been ravaged by a catalogue of defects since birth.

But the nine-hour procedure, to stop potentially fatal seizures caused by the pressure, caused a clot to move to her brain and affect her ability to smile, talk and use her right arm.

Always by her side, her parents Amanda and Stephen thought they’d lost the little girl they once knew forever.

Yet Layla battled back and has returned home full of a zest for life, yet again defying doctors’ predictions.

Now the little girl’s story has seen her receive scores of nominations for the Child of Courage category in this year’s Pride of Wearside awards. (Make your nominations here).

Mum-of-three Amanda, 30, said: “Layla has already had major heart operations, we thought we’d lost her then, but she came home. Then when she had this operation and the stroke, we thought she’d be a different child. Before that, she’d been so full of smiles and so loud.

“At first, she couldn’t even suck her dummy because the stroke affected her movement so much, but it’s gradually come back and she is exactly the same Layla, still cheeky, still full of life, just with less movement in her right arm.”

Ten weeks after the surgery, Layla has finally returned home and doctors think that, with physiotherapy, she should regain 90 per cent of the movement she once had.

Layla, who needs 11 different medications a day, is no stranger to hospital and has been fighting for life since birth.

When she was a newborn, scans revealed that she was suffering from mitral stenosis, mitral valve regurgitation, pulmonary hypertension and aortic stenosis. It meant the valve in the left side of her heart was not working properly, pumping blood back into her tiny lungs.

At a month old, she underwent her first heart operation in a bid to try and repair the valve, but the repair held for just two weeks and by Christmas, Layla was losing weight again and was readmitted to hospital.

In January, she had further heart surgery, the first time a procedure of its kind had been carried out at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital in 20 years.

Since then, her parents have been told she will need to go on a lung transplant list when she is five, as her own are not strong enough.

Amanda said: “She’s still only the size of a nine-month-old despite being 17 months but she’s doing really well at the minute. She’s put on weight and is finally growing. The seizures have stopped and she looks the best she’s ever looked.”

Amanda, who is also mum to Mia-Jae, five, and Makenzie, nine, says Layla’s strength helps them to stay strong.

“She just takes it all in her stride, she never gets upset,” she said. “She’s opened our eyes to a whole new world and way of life. She’s a miracle.”