A Wearside mum says her daughter is living life to the full as past prejudices about Down’s Syndrome are pushed aside.
Louise Major has spoken of her experience of bringing up Leona Russell, seven, ahead of Monday’s World Down Syndrome Day.
Everyone was really supportive, Paul was fantastic, but I was heartbroken, I didn’t know anything about it and I was just going off what I knew years ago.Louise Major
Louise, who works as a supervisor for Deichmann shoe shop in Sunderland city centre, and is also mum to Ryan Major, 20, and Caitlynne Major, 17, Lexi Russell, four, and Harrison Russell, two, had been told she would not have any more children after she suffered an ectopic pregnancy following the birth of her two eldest children.
But the 37-year-old and partner Paul Russell, 30, were then delighted when they were told she was expecting Leona.
The first signs something was different about her was when she suffered breathing problems after she was delivered at Sunderland Royal, with heart and stomach surgery later carried out.
Louise, of Hollycarrside, said: “For some reason, I knew straight away it was Down’s Syndrome, but she was given some tests and so I contacted everybody in the family to tell them.
“Everyone was really supportive, Paul was fantastic, but I was heartbroken, I didn’t know anything about it and I was just going off what I knew years ago.
“But I’ve got to know other families who have kids who have it, it’s brilliant to be able to talk to each other.”
Louise is encouraging other parents to call into a new Sunderland session and anyone who needs help to seek out the support of Down Syndrome North East.
She has praised Silksworth Infants, where Leona is thriving through her love of reading and sports.
Louise added: “I want her to do all the things other children do, go to college, get a job and be independent.”
The Monday meet-ups, which will join in celebrations to mark the awareness day this month, are held on every last Monday of the month from 4.30pm to 5.30pm at the Harvester pub, formerly the Sandcastle, in Ryhope.
More details about World Down Syndrome Day can be found via www.worlddownsyndromeday.org