A mum and dad have had the perfect Christmas present after their baby girl, who was born three months premature, has come home just in time for Christmas.
Layla Daly weighed just 1lb 9oz when she was born prematurely in July, and as a result has had to stay in hospital until now.
Parents Vicky Russell, 27, and Scott Daly, 30, were told she likely wouldn’t make it full-term due to her tiny underdeveloped lungs. The couple rejected a late abortion due to potential liver problems.
When Layla was born, she fought to survive and endured 11 blood transfusions – but her early arrival meant some of her digestive organs then started to die.
She pulled through though, and became well enough for a repair operation. However, she then contracted sepsis, which forced her to stay in hospital for a 115-day stretch.
And now little Layla has defied all odds and is well enough to go home for the first time, just days before their first Christmas as a family.
Mum Vicky, a former retail assistant, from Melksham, Wiltshire, said:
There have been so many times where we’ve been told that our little girl wasn’t going to make it, so we feel incredibly lucky that she’s here with us.
And to be able to bring her home in time for her first Christmas is just magical. It’s like all our Christmases have come at once. We are so happy and can’t wait for our first family Christmas.
We were told we would be very lucky to be home for Christmas because of how poorly she was and the repeat step backs, so we are even more grateful.
Vicky and Scott had always wanted a family but worried they wouldn’t be able to conceive because Vicky had lupus. She was advised that she should be in remission for at least six months to have a healthy pregnancy.
It took four years for the disease to be in remission and the couple were then given the go ahead to start trying for a baby. Within just three weeks, Vicky fell pregnant.
I was extremely excited when I saw two lines appear on the test but the excitement then turned to nerves as I knew there was a lot of risks and possible complications to carrying a child when you have lupus.
And Vicky’s pregnancy was fair from smooth-sailing. Before the two month mark, she was in and out of hospital and was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness).
At her 16-week scan, the couple discovered they were having a little girl – but their joy was short-lived when just two weeks later they were told there was a problem with their unborn daughter.
At my 18 week scan they spotted calcifications – specks – on our baby’s liver. We were referred to fetal medicine at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol.
They did repeat scans and then sat us down and said that they thought these calcifications were significant. They talked about the possibility of our daughter having CMV, Down Syndrome, cystic fibrosis or cabin damage.
To say we where distraught is an understatement.
The couple were given the option of termination at 21 weeks pregnant, however after weighing up their options, they chose against it.
Vicky was booked in for a follow up scan four weeks later and just two weeks after that, at 24 weeks pregnant, her waters broke and she was taken to Southmead Hospital in Bristol via ambulance.
She was given magnesium and steroids to help the baby’s lungs, as well as medication to stop her labour. She stayed in hospital for a week and a half, before being sent home.
However, she soon returned to hospital in an ambulance as she woke up with extreme stomach pain and was throwing up. It was found she had a severe infection and the baby needed to be delivered within four hours.
Layla was born at 26 weeks at 5.35pm on July 28. She weighed a tiny 1lb 9oz and doctors said she was so undeveloped, she might not survive.
And the little girl has been fighting ever since. Born smaller than her dad’s hand, at three weeks old, Layla contracted a life-threatening infection, necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), which caused part of her bowel to die.
She underwent emergency surgery and had 10cm of her bowel removed and a stoma formed to help her gut heal. After seven weeks in recovery, Layla had her stoma reversed and her intestines put back together – whilst battling deadly infection sepsis.
Layla defied all the odds and has been discharged and allowed back to the family home just in time for Christmas.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).