THE parents of a baby left severely brain damaged during birth were told to start preparing her funeral with little chance of survival.
Little Thea Hay, from Selkirk, Scottish Borders, was born with Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE), a condition where there is a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain.
The tot, now aged two, was delivered by emergency C-section at Borders General Hospital before being transferred to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary’s neonatal department.
Mum Kasey Watson, 23, had a healthy pregnancy before problems arose during labour.
She said: “My pregnancy was fine, totally healthy. The birth was going well until the late stages, but she wouldn’t come.
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“They tried forceps several times and eventually I was sent for an emergency C-section.
“She didn’t come out crying and I didn’t get that first contact with her as doctors took her away, that’s when I knew something was wrong.”
Thea was incubated and underwent cooling therapy to lower her body temperature and protect the brain from further damage.
She spent the first two weeks of her life in the specialist Edinburgh ward then another week at Borders General Hospital before being allowed home.
But throughout her newborn battle, doctors repeatedly warned Kasey and partner Jack Hay, also 23, to prepare for the worst.
Kasey told the Scottish Sun Online: “I just broke down as soon as they said it. Some of it is still a blur, it was so traumatic.
“We were told every day to prepare for the worst.
“They said it was unlikely Thea would survive and to make funeral arrangements.
“Even when she kept progressing, they said it wouldn’t last and she would regress but she proved everyone wrong and has continued to fight the odds ever since.”
However, the past two years haven’t been easy for Thea.
The toddler has fought through epilepsy, dystonia (muscle spasms) and high tone and spasticity in her muscles.
What is hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy?
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a type of brain dysfunction that occurs when the brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen or blood flow for a period of time.
Hypoxic means not enough oxygen; ischemic means not enough blood flow; and encephalopathy means brain disorder.
While most babies born with mild hypoxia will recover without permanent disability, moderate or severe hypoxia substantially increases the risk that your baby will have a lifelong disability.
The earliest signs of hypoxia are confusion, restlessness and shortness of breath.
She hasn’t been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, but her parents say “it is very likely it will come”.
The “happy and cheeky” two-year-old can currently sit, interact, play, and say a few odd words.
But Kasey and Jack want their “little fighter” to have the best chance at life and are now fundraising for life-changing treatment in America, with £11,700 of the £25,000 target secured so far.
The NAPA centre in Los Angeles offers numerous therapies including speech, physiotherapy, occupational and other specialist treatments.
The rehab centre will assess Thea and tailor treatment to suit her needs.
But four hours of therapy alone for five days a week over three weeks costs around £6,000, plus flights and accommodation.
Kasey said: “I’m quite hopeful this treatment will progress her. Even if it gets her to the crawling stage, she can progress from there.
“If we put her into a four-point position at the moment she tries to go forward but just doesn’t have the coordination.”
“She’s happy and quite cheeky as well. She’s got a big personality but she does get frustrated and cries when she can’t do something.
“She’s going to need therapy for the rest of her life.
“There’s always going to be a next stage we want to help her to progress to, so we won’t stop fundraising.”
To donate to the fundraiser click here.
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