A seven per cent chance of survival – Denise’s story

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Denise's daughter was given a very slim chance of survival at birth. Despite the odds, Eliana is now thriving.

Before my daughter Eliana was born, we were warned that her chances were slim. She was given only 7 per cent chance of survival and I was asked by many doctors to allow her to pass away when she was born. I was told about a whole list of complications that she could suffer from if she lived - she might not breathe, she could be blind, have brain damage, might not be able to walk, talk or even feed herself, and would have no quality of life. My husband and I refused to believe the doctors but we prayed for Eliana and had hope.

I was dilated 3cm from 22 weeks despite having a stitch at 20 weeks. I spent a week in hospital knowing that Eliana was not considered “viable”. This made us feel invisible and it was hard to get the medical treatment we needed. In the end my doctor had to speak on my behalf and I was allowed to have steroids and magnesium which helped Eliana immensely when she arrived.

At 23+5 weeks, Eliana was born in her sac and came out screaming and breathing on her own. She still needed the support from the ventilator as her lungs were so weak and was rushed off to NICU straight away.

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Eliana stayed in hospital for 131 days. In this time we were asked to switch off her machine many times- because she would have no quality of life, she would deteriorate and never come home with us. But Eliana had no brain damage, she could see, she was on the ventilator for 70 days but still responded to pain, light, sound and touch. She had no bowel issues or anything else. She just needed time for her lungs to develop.

During the few weeks when we thought she would pass away, Bliss visited our NICU to take pictures of babies in neonatal care to use on their website. We were asked ahead of the visit to let our nurse know if we would like to be involved. At first I didn’t want to be part of it but after thinking about it, I decided if the worst happened, at least I would have lovely pictures to look back on and that I would be able to support the charity in their work.

It was hard seeing other parents dress their babies or be able to have skin-to-skin whilst having their pictures taken. We were not allowed to hold Eliana for almost a month after she became critical. She had two machines to support her breathing and the highest amount of pain relief. Each day we would visit, sit by her incubator and sing, read, pray and talk to her. It was a horrendous time but those memories are now so precious to us.

Eventually, Eliana started to respond to treatment and showed signs of improvement. Her lungs became stronger and she started to grow. After 131 days she came home – despite so many odds stacked against her.

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Although she’s been back in PICU three times due to her lung problems and her not being able to battle off a cold, we know her lungs are continuing to get stronger and hopefully hospital visits will become a thing of the past soon.

Eliana is the strongest, sweetest, most loving, funny, sassy, and most inspirational little girl I’ve ever met. I’m so blessed and proud to be her mummy.

Bliss has been so amazing on our journey. They provided such great support to us as parents and I am proud that our daughter’s photos have helped them in their work.

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