Little Miss Miracle is one
Published: October 12, 2006 | 4914th good news item since 2003
A MIRACLE baby who was once given just 24 hours to live is now thriving and about to celebrate her first birthday.
Little Evie Onley was born with a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH), a very serious condition that required her to have surgery when she was just two weeks old.
CDH affects about one in 2,500 births and means that there is a hole in the diaphragm, which causes essential organs to move up into the chest.
And this week Evie’s mum Nicola Crosby, aged 26, of Nowell Road, told the Guardian about how her brave little girl overcame the odds.
Evie is Nicola’s fourth child but the first child of Nicola’s partner Stuart Onley, a builder.
Nicola said: “We always knew we wanted a child together, even though our family was already big. We went for the 20 week scan at North Manchester General where they discovered Evie’s condition.
“It came as a major shock to us when they told us she had CDH. Neither of us had ever heard of it.
“We were absolutely devastated, and the only information we were given was an explanation of how it would affect the baby, along with the fact that babies with this condition either don’t survive or aren’t always able to lead a ‘normal life’.
“We were also told that we could consider terminating the pregnancy, but for us that was never an option.
“This was Stuart’ first child and the love we felt for her already meant that we didn’t ever have to ask the question. Whatever happened she was already part of our lives and part of our family.”
Nicola and Stuart then went on to find out as much as they could about the condition. They knew that Evie would need major surgery as soon as she was born and asked for more information with every scan.
Nicola, who works for Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale PCT, said: “I was scanned regularly to check whether any more of Evie’s bowel had moved up into her chest. We needed to try and prepare ourselves for what was ahead.
“We also had an amino test which showed that the condition had developed naturally and was not in either mine or Stuart’s genes – it could literally happen to anyone.”
When Evie was born, on 9 November last year, Nicola didn’t even get to hold her before she was transferred to the special care baby unit at St Mary’s Hospital.
The day was especially stressful for the young mum as her own grandmother had died just hours previously.
Nicola said: “It was all a bit of a blur after the birth and I remember Stuart shielding me from the bed where the doctors were working on her as he could see how distressed I was.
“Looking back he was just as upset as I was, but always put on a brave face for my sake. The thought of giving birth to my daughter and not being able to hold her was unbearable, and in fact she would be five weeks old before I got my first cuddle.”
After six weeks, doctors thought Evie may be well enough for surgery – but she developed an infection and had deteriorated quickly.
Nicola and Stuart were told that she may not survive the day, let alone an operation. But two weeks later Evie had improved enough to have the hole in her diaphragm repaired.
Nicola said: “It was then a waiting game to see how her lungs developed and each day they would wean down her oxygen in an attempt to get her breathing for herself.
“Finally, after a three month stay in the unit and many sleepless nights, she was allowed to come home. We were elated. We felt like we’d missed so much time with her, even though we visited the hospital every day and stayed for sometimes 12 hours a time.
“It seemed that when she came home she just thrived. She gained weight and loved being around her brother and sisters.
“Evie will not need any treatment when she’s older, although they have said it could take up to two years for her other lung to be the size it should be. Other than that she has made a full recovery and we have always treated her like we would any other baby.”
The little fighter is now healthy and lively and loves playing with her older siblings Molly, aged 10, Phoebe, aged five, and Max, aged three.
Nicola said: “The doctors and nurses in the neo natal Unit at St Mary’s are miracle workers and without them there were times when we didn’t know if she would make it.
“Evie is definitely a fighter and to us she is our little miracle – or our little princess.”