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Battling baby wins fight for life

Story By Claire Elliot

 

LITTLE Makenzi Thomson was fighting for life before she was even born.

Her bowel had grown outside her body and she had to be delivered six weeks early when she stopped moving in her mother's womb.

 

Weighing just 4lb 5oz she was rushed to theatre when she was only a few hours old for the first of three life-saving operations.

 

Makenzi, who developed a condition called gastroschisis, spent the next week sedated with her bowel suspended in a bag above her incubator, to allow it to fall gently back into place.

 

Her devastated parents Michelle and Jordan, were given the chance to terminate the pregnancy at 20 weeks when a routine scan picked up the potentially fatal anomaly.

 

But today as they watch their two-year-old daughter run and play like any other active toddler, they know they were right not to give up.

 

Against all odds, Makenzi, who also battled back from the brink after being struck down with a life-threatening bowel disease when she was just over two months old, was even flower girl at her parents' wedding last year.

 

Mrs Thomson, from Ayr, Ayrshire, said: “When I look at her now,

I can’t help but be proud.

 

“She has come through so much and I have never heard her

complain.

 

“She’s amazing and I wouldn’t change her for the world.

 

"In hospital her bowel was put in a bag and hung above her

incubator. But we didn’t see her any differently. Though there

were all these wires and tubes, we didn’t really acknowledge

they were there. She was just ours, and she looked like a

normal baby to us.

 

“The hardest part was not being able

to take her home.”

 

The couple had been together just

seven months when they

were dealt the devastating news

about their unborn child.

 

The condition, which affects one in

around 7,000 babies, meant

the abdominal wall failed to form

correctly allowing the intestines

to grow outside the body.

 

Mrs Thomson, who is also mum to

11-month-old Kaila, said: “It was a

big shock for both of us because

we had never heard of it.

 

“Then she had to be delivered six

weeks early because she was in

distress and I could have lost her.

 

“I was hysterical. I called my mum

and I was just crying down the phone.

 

“It was horrible.”

 

Makenzi, who was sedated and put on

oxygen for her first nine days, was

rushed to theatre just hours after she

was born on November 16, 2010, for

the first of two operations to resolve the defect.

 

As her bowel was too big to be pushed back into her body in one operation, however, the organ was hung up in a bag over her incubator to help guide it back into position.

 

Mrs Thomson, a spary tan technician, said: “Every morning the surgeon would come round and try and push it down a bit. Then when she was six days old she got her second lot of surgery to put the rest of her bowel put back in [her body].”

 

Makenzi looked like she was making good progress.

 

Her mum, who had to wait 10 days to hold her baby for the first time, gave Makenzi her first bottle feed when she was a month old and she was expected to be out of hospital a few weeks later.

 

But the tot needed a third life-saving operation when she developed gastrointestinal disease necrotizing entercolitis, which causes inflammation and infection that destroys the bowel.

 

Mrs Thomson said: “It was horrible. She was vomiting, had blood in her nappy and she looked grey. All the colour drained out of her. It set her right back to the beginning.”

 

To rest her bowel, Makenzi had to be tube fed for another two-and-a-half months. At one point she was receiving less than a tenth of a teaspoon an hour.

 

Makenzi, who now weighs a much healthier 28lb 6oz, was eventually allowed home in April 2011, when she was five months old.

 

But her parents were warned that her development could be severely delayed as a result of the cocktail of drugs she was given as a baby.

 

Mrs Thomson, however, said: “Nothing is holding her back. She is really clever for a girl of two and is really independent. She puts on her own clothes, will tell you when she’s hungry or wants a drink and is always running around.

 

“She just strives off everything. We’re extremely proud of her.

 

“She has given us a few scares and at times it was hard and I didn’t think we’d get to where we are today.

 

“But we don’t wrap her up in cotton wool. She’s just a normal two-year-old.

 

“She doesn’t stop from when she wakes up in the morning until she goes to bed.”

 

Makenzi, who loves dancing and motorbikes, is now off all medication and apart from being unable to eat chocolate, which gives her a sore stomach, she has no scars to show for her battles other than a specially designed tummy button.

 

Mrs Thomson said: “They had to make her one, so we call it her designer belly button.”

 

Makenzi still has to attend appointments once a year at Yorkhill Hospital, in Glasgow, where she received her treatment and Mrs Thomson now plans to shave her head to raise money for Yorkhill Children's Foundation, which helps fund vital equipment for the hospital.

 

“Without Yorkhill, Makenzi wouldn’t be here,” she said.

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Makenzi Thomson With Her mum Michelle

Makenzi Thomson in hospital at two days old