A “miracle baby” who was born with a hole in her throat has finally been able to go home – after spending the first five months of her life in hospital.
Millie Oxley needed emergency surgery to insert a feeding tube at just three days old because her oesophagus was not connected to her stomach.
She then had to undergo a major operation to repair the oesophagus and needed to be sedated for a fortnight afterwards.
The oesophagus is the tube through which food passes from the mouth to the stomach.
The upper part of Millie’s oesophagus didn’t connect with the lower oesophagus and stomach, which meant food could not reach her stomach.
Her mum Kirsty Oxley, 30, who was told she might lose her baby during pregnancy due to heavy bleeding, said it was gut-wrenching to see her having to battle again after being born.
But after five months in Leeds General Infirmary, the bouncing bundle of joy has been able to return home where she lives with her big sister, three-year-old Holly.
Kirsty said: “The doctors said they didn’t know what was causing my heavy bleeding so they told me they didn’t think she’d make it through pregnancy.
“I was told four or five times they weren’t positive about the pregnancy going full-term.
“Then when it came to her big operation, they said to prepare for the worst because of all the risks involved. I thought ‘oh my god I’m going to lose her’ again.
“I’m so very proud of her, she’s taught me how to be strong because I was a wreck going through all that, from the moment I was told to expect to lose her.
“I just can’t take my eyes off her.”
Kirsty was told at her 20 week scan her unborn baby was diagnosed with Oesophageal Atresia, an abnormality where her oesophagus hasn’t connected to her stomach.
This meant Millie would not be able to feed orally and caused excess fluid in the womb as Kirsty’s body was still producing the food she needed, but she could not eat it.
Kirsty, who is no longer with Millie’s dad, added: “When I got the diagnosis, I looked it up online and there were just horror stories. It worried the life out of me and I didn’t think she would make it.”
Kirsty, a supermarket worker, was scheduled to be medically induced on September 8, just before her due date.
But once she was in the hospital, she was rushed for an emergency C-section when surgeons decided they could not risk leaving Millie in the womb any longer.
Delivered weighing 6lb 3oz, a surgical team inserted a gastronomy tube into Millie’s throat so she could be fed directly into her stomach while she waited for her life-saving surgery.
She spent eight weeks on the neonatal ward as Kirsty anxiously waited for her to grow bigger so she could have the operation.
After the operation in November to repair Millie’s oesophagus, she was sedated for longer than was scheduled to because of complications.
She suffered a collapsed lung and Kirsty feared she might lose her baby who had already defied so many odds to be born.
Kirsty said: “She was only meant to be sedated for five days, but when she woke up, she was really struggling to breath. I just felt helpless, I couldn’t do anything for her.”
Kirsty and Millie both tested positive for Coronavirus the day before they were due to be released from hospital, delaying their discharge by another 10 days.
But on January 26, Kirsty, of Barton-upon-Humber in Lincolnshire, was finally given the green light to leave the hospital and go home.
Now weighing a healthy 13lb, Millie is thriving at home.
Kirsty added: “She’s already wearing 6-9 months clothes, she’s doing brilliant.
“She’s trying to roll over every time I put her down and she’s always smiling at her sister, she’s doing brilliant.
“Holly loves being a sister, she’s always cuddling her and loving her and playing with her.
“I’m just so happy to be home as a family.
“When I was told we could go home, it didn’t feel real at first, we’d been so close before. It got to the point where I thought it was never going to happen with every setback.
“Walking out of the hospital with her was surreal, it was the best feeling ever.”
Kirsty, who stayed in accommodation on the hospital grounds provided by the Sick Chidren’s Trust during the ordeal, is now hoping to raise much-needed funds for the hospital.
The charity Leeds Cares funds life-saving equipment such as incubators to the hospital and Kirsty is hoping she can repay staff for their help.
She said: “The staff were absolute heroes, they were amazing with Millie and they were amazing with me.
“I can’t praise them enough and hopefully other children will be able to benefit from their care and equipment like Millie did.”
Visit Leedscares.enthuse.com/pf/kirsty-oxley to donate.