A premature baby whose parents were TWICE urged to turn off her life support machine because it would “cost too much” to keep her alive has defied doctors – to walk and talk.
Faith Snell was born at 25 weeks weighing just 1lb 2oz – little more than a loaf of bread – and suffered a brain haemorrhage during the emergency caesarean delivery.
She spent the first six weeks of her life in intensive care – during which doctors twice advised her parents to pull the plug because she would be severely disabled.
Shockingly, mum Leanne even claims that on the second occasion doctors suggested it would cost too much to continue the battle to save her daughter.
But brave Faith pulled through and – despite being largely paralysed down the right hand side of her body – has learned to walk, talk and thrive.
As Faith approaches her third birthday, Leanne said: “Seeing how well she has done now I feel angry and sad that they even gave us the option [to turn off the machine].
“If we did we wouldn’t know what we do now. Every time Faith does something new I think ‘If I’d turned the machines off I never would have seen this’.”
Housewife Leanne, of Liskeard, Cornwall, had a normal pregnancy until she woke at 2am on December 14 2012 in excruciating pain.
Husband Anthony, a welder, called for an ambulance but her waters broke on the way to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.
She underwent an emergency caesarean section and Faith was rushed straight to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Doctors diagnosed a grade four intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH) – the most severe form – which had caused her to lose 60 per cent of the function in the left-hand side of her brain.
She opened her eyes for the first time on Christmas Day – but then took a dramatic turn for the worse and doctors advised the couple to turn off her life support machine.
But having already lost one child – a son Zander who was stillborn at 22 weeks in October 2010 – they knew they had to fight on.
“They said that if it was their child they would turn the machine off because she would not walk or talk or have any quality of life,” said Leanne.
“They gave us a few hours to talk about it and we went back in and said: ‘No we are going ahead’.”
Faith appeared to recover but deteriorated again and on New Year’s Day Leanne and Anthony were again asked the same agonising question.
“They said we should really think again about turning the machine off,” said Leanne.
“They were a bit surprised when we went back the second time with the same answer.
“They were like ‘Are you sure? It’s going to cost us a lot of money’. But my daughter’s life is a lot more important than money.”
Miraculously, Faith pulled through again and the couple were finally able to hold their daughter in their arms in February.
When they finally took her home in April she weighed 7lbs 11 ounces – the weight of a typical newborn.
The toddler now suffers from hemiplegia – a paralysis of one side of the body – and will never have much movement in the right-hand side of her body.
But with the help of physiotherapy, she learned to crawl at 18 months and was taking her first tentative steps with the help of leg splints shortly after her second birthday.
Leanne said: “We were told that she would never walk and would be on oxygen for the first four years of her life.
“But the week after we brought her home they took her completely off the oxygen because she could breathe on her own.
“She can talk more than they thought she would be able to. She can play, she can draw and she’s really good at counting.”
The couple want to raise awareness of hemiplegia and reassure parents whose babies have brain haemorrhages that it is not as life-limiting as they may fear.
“Her consultant thinks that she will just live a normal life and go to a normal school,” said Leanne.
“She is a bit clumsy and she gets frustrated with things like eating because she can’t use her right hand so she can’t feed herself.
“But I just want people to know that it is not all bad.”