Parents who were advised to have an abortion have shared how their disabled daughter has defied doctors’ expectations.
Laurel Phizacklea was born with exomphalos major – a condition that means her stomach, bowel and liver are outside her body.
Doctors said she would not survive birth and advised her parents Kelly and Sean to abort, but they refused and say she has been a “true inspiration” and continues to amaze them every day.
Mother Kelly first discovered her daughter’s condition at her 12-week scan, where doctors told the excited first-time parents that their baby also had a spinal abnormality.
Kelly said: “They said that our baby’s organs were on the outside of the body. I couldn’t believe that was even possible.”
She added: “We couldn’t quite believe what we were hearing when they offered us an abortion.
“People kept saying: ‘It’s okay, you can try again’ – but I didn’t want another baby. I was so in love with this baby and we knew we would do everything we could for her.”
Further scans revealed Laurel had a hole in her heart and a spinal deformity. The couple was again offered an abortion when their daughter’s exomphalos doubled in size just three weeks before birth, but still they refused.
Laurel was born on 6 June 2018, weighing a healthy 7lb 5oz, before being put on a ventilator and taken to the neonatal intensive care unit.
“When we heard her cry out I couldn’t believe it. Both Sean and I just burst into tears.
“We knew it was far from the end of it – but to hear her cry was a huge relief and from that moment we knew she was a fighter.”
Laurel is now two and skin has formed over her protruding organs, meaning she can eat, drink and go to the toilet normally, and is behaving exactly like other toddlers – attempting to jump off the arms of the sofa and playing in muddy puddles.
Extra care must be taken while she waits for corrective surgery to reinsert her organs at Kings College Hospital in London next year.
The relieved parents said they “never gave up hope” and that their two year-old daughter has “done us so proud”.